Said Too (or two) flower. It is a play, at Artscape’s Arena (still no ice at the bar), created and directed by Beren Belknap (who created and directed Out of Order). Madame Touxflouwe had its premier at Out The Box last year but last night was the first time I saw it.
This play has plenty of ingredients. It has a cast of strong and talented performers; James MacGregor, Johan Vermaak, Alex Halligey and Brendan Murray. It has excellent multimedia visuals and tricks. It has horror as a theme and one hellova lot of story. There is very delicious and lovely music. Put all these into a theatre blender and mix, and there should be a good slice of play on the table but there isn’t.
The idea is that there is a haunted house in which the same old ghoulish servants prepare a meal for the head haunt, Madame Touxflouwe, every night. She has them hooked into her story because she has been feeding on their memories (or something) and now there is the new guy who they want to make sure doesn’t leave so she can feed on his memories instead. There is so much story though, and so much exposition, it kinda gets in the way of the plot.
I kept on struggling to stay engaged, right from the very beginning. When we sat down James, as the terribly nervous Â cleaner, was cleaning, and setting the table. And that’s how the show starts when the lights go down and come back on again. This sets the tone for an evening of endless repetition. I guess it has to do with the fact that everyone is dead, so they do the same thing every night. Only it’s quite hard for an audience to watch the same thing over and over again.
It’s the same thing with the characters; Henry (Johan) shouts and victimises, Vladimir (Brendan) moves between thug and simpering creep, and Tilly (Alex) is a silent, haunted waif. This is a great place to start but these characters don’t go anywhere. They don’t change in any way, and they don’t affect each other to change. It’s very hard to care about them. Then there is the dialogue, which is also drearily repetitive, with characters saying the exact same things over and over again. A bit like me, here.
I must confess, I started squirming about twenty minutes in. Which was not good because the show was an hour and a half long.