Le Havre was a place to be at the end of May 2015, if one wanted to see Tabac Rouge, a production show by James Thierée, renewed and transformed since its original creation in 2013. Performed by James Thierrée himself and compagnie du Hanneton, what a unique experience it was! A whimsical confluence of theatre, music, acrobatics, the beauty and mastery of human movement, humour, delicacy of small gestures, visual compositions of light, costumes and stage design, all blending into magnificent moments of one journey.
Its meaning is not ‘into your face’, but also not hidden beyond or destroyed by a complicated construct of concepts and references. Among its multiple layers the meanings unfold depending on where do we, as witnesses, want to look. It appeals to senses and speaks to a palette of qualities, yet leaving it to the spectator to discover what those are. It is an invitation into an experience, a door into a world of exploration of how things are inside - perhaps inside a society, inside a structure, or inside a single human being. Inside a human inner world that is searching for unification of all its qualities, tired of being dominated by just one of them.
Tabac Rouge is one of those powerful kicks that shakes you out of the daily routine, and almost inevitably drives to look inside and around you. You grow, becoming part of a theatrical dance between a sergeant-like reason, bare-legged pleasure, play and poetry, obedience and courage, controlling pride and ability to fly. A dance that lives in each person, if we pay attention - it's there, under our skin, where many characters live.... the thin-king, the birds, the talking head, the mirror, the judge, the elfs, the demons, the government, the muses... Inhabitants of inner worlds walking in and out of daily reality. Showing up and disappearing again at the rhythm of an old tune.
One of the main characters we get to meet seems to be just an inanimate object, a mirror, who turns out to be a powerful being. He is a doorman between the visible world and the “other side”, where one only lands in moments of great crisis or yearning. Between the two worlds lives a Man. He is weak and worn-out. He tries to be loyal to his life in the visible world, where his life happens under control of his Reason, where he only seems to be getting away from his suffering at times when bare-legged Pleasure appears, walking back-bend, soothing and entertaining the Man.
As the Man’s drama of decadence becomes more intolerable things start to change. The false boss is demolished. And at the end of it all, what can be more beautiful than to see Reason listening to music, slowly starting to dance and falling in love, feet first... An act that is singing the end of the twisted-mind-era.