Reviewed by Ann Durrell
The Toad Knew is James Thierrée’s sixth production for his Compagnie du Hanneton. Modern day clowning/slapstick/acrobatics in a totally surreal setting, I spent most of the performance with a confused look on my face!
The curtain didn’t go up but rather was carefully dropped and pulled away to one side whilst the companies singer gave a gravelly atmospheric performance draped in a red cloak almost perfectly matching the curtains. Once down we saw the staging, a strange combination of lit platforms with an LED light flashing through. Enter the acrobatic, a nymph like figure who made her way to the top of the staging whilst underneath Thierrée watched and moved around enthralled by this being. We then met two more of the cast, and what ensued was a mix of circus and contemporary dance with a fair few giggles in between. Whilst captivating and clearly very cleverly put together, I struggled. I like to understand a story, the relationships between those on the stage and with this I still am not sure I understand what I spent 90 minutes watching! It did also seem a little long, maybe at 60 minutes it would have had more effect, saying that I still wouldn’t have understood what was happening!
For me I got slightly tired of the 1940’s style club singing, and when she started repeating what seemed like betting odds mixed with the shipping forecast I was totally gone! However, there were some very good bits, I really enjoyed the more humorous sections. During the part when there appeared to be a never-ending supply of silver platters and a strange silver platter creature I did find it very amusing… but I still didn’t understand where it all came from. It could just be that I like my theatre less contemporary, less surreal, I did enjoy it and I would go to another performance by Compagnie du Hanneton but maybe not without reading up on it first!
For other shows at The Lowry in Manchester visit www.thelowry.com.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000