Theatre review: The Veil (Le Foulard)
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: The Veil (Le Foulard), at the Pleasance Dome (Venue 23), reviewed by Susan Mansfield.
“I AM an artist,” announces the lead character of Lucy Hopkins’s one-woman show. “Very few of you will ever appreciate what that means.” Her Artist is both supremely patronising and rather needy, insatiable in her desire for adulation and applause.
The Artist must be the star of the show, her ego demands it. But this is challenged by other characters, also played by Hopkins, who differentiates between them by subtle movements of her large black veil. There is a Shakespearian actor, a cowled extra from a horror film, a girl in a café who can turn ordering a coffee into a drama of epic proportions, and then there’s God – at least, until she decides he doesn’t exist.
Much of the show’s humour comes from the way in which relations between these rival on-stage personalities become increasingly strained.
There can be no doubt of the increase in performance artists on the Fringe making work about themselves, and Hopkins satirises the worst aspects of this approach by pursuing self-indulgence until it is almost grotesque. Trained as a clown at the Jacques Lecoq and Philippe Gaulier schools in Paris, she is an accomplished physical performer, miming, speaking and singing, making the smallest gestures and expressions work for her.
It is an overwrought performance, but that’s the point. As well as being funny, it can also be frustrating and uncomfortable. There are times when we’re not sure what is going on. All of this is no less than she intends. She is examining the relationship of artist and ego by making a piece of work which is knowingly self-absorbed and egotistical.
All this is well and good, but what left me most uncomfortable was the sense that the impetus of the show is negative. It lays waste the worst excesses of performance art without putting anything in its place, and is so deft in its attack it seems a little unfair to those who practice in the genre well and with integrity.
Originally published in The Scotsman