New Town Theatre
19, 21, 23 August etc (alternating between their other show Strike) 19.40
Nouvelles Folies is the new show from Fiat Lux, a French “silent Burlesque” theatre company, who blend together mime and slapstick for this hour of physical comedy.
At best, the choreographed chaos of Nouvelles Folies reminds one of the silent films of Laurel and Hardy, drawing the audience into their act with some wonderfully imaginative set pieces. At worst, it is just a collection of mute Frenchmen falling over and needlessly colliding into one another.
Although largely irrelevant to the success of the show, Nouvelles Folies does manage to piece together a coherent narrative; an out-of-town couple arrive at the seaside, only to find themselves holidaying with a group of leering local fishermen. What follows is a series of sketches that form a kind of snapshot of the holiday, incorporating physical comedy into the scenes of male camaraderie between the fishermen, as well as to the romantic squabbles of the holidaying couple.
You can’t help thinking that the real problem with this show lies in the concept. Aside from the occasional moment of genius, for example when one of the fishermen serenades the woman with a whole harmonica lodged in his mouth, the slapstick is often not enough to actually make you laugh out loud. This is not a direct criticism of Fiat Lux, since they are obviously talented and dedicated exponents of “silent Burlesque”, but rather a criticism of the genre itself. There is a reason why most comedies now involve the spoken word.
I would highly recommend this show for children under the age of 12, but would be surprised if any adults genuinely enjoyed it from start to finish.