2019 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival
L’Homme de Hus by Camille Boitel

Dates and Venue
February 1 & 2, 2019 at 8pm |
Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton Street

Originators Bénédicte Le Lamer, Camille Boitel Lighting Design Camille Boitel and Laure Couturier

Reviewer John Jane

Performance artist Camille Boitel’s brand of physical satire would likely find a more natural place with Cirque du SoleilTM than on a theatre stage. Although the constraints of a black box stage didn’t appear to present any restrictions to Monsieur Boitel, who not only left the stage at one point, but even left the auditorium as part of his act.

Boitel trained at École Nationale du Cirque, which has since become Académie Fratellini, one of France's major circus schools. So, it’s not surprising that this show, his first as a solo artist, is essentially non-verbal and has a clown-like, physically manic element.

Much of Boitel’s act is performed in either half light or total darkness. So one is never really sure whether Boitel is in full control. To the watching audience, it would seem as if the several dozen wooden trestles have taken over the performer and the stage. There is a point when the trestles are haphazardly stacked in the centre of the stage as if waiting for someone with a match to turn it into a huge bonfire.

L’Homme de Hus is divided into three almost equal sections; each one identified with Boitel three different coloured kimonos: red, white and black. The black costume almost resembles a small tent as the wearer looks to be concealing a skateboard inside it.

The first part, on a faintly lit stage, involves Boitel in a wrestling match (one which he loses) with a wooden folding chair. His comic schtick of trying to assemble a table and chair is truly Chaplinesque.

At the end of his sixty-minute show, Camille Boitel received a standing ovation. The audience obviously appreciated how much the artist had invested of himself.

© 2019 John Jane