Fairy Tale Heart was performed in French at the Cockpit Theatre as part of the Voila! Festival. Voila! is an annual celebration of home-grown theatre companies performing in English and French, and ran from 30th October to 8th November 2014.
The play focused on two teenagers, Kirsty and Gideon, who meet in a derelict community centre. Both teenagers have problems with their families, which are discussed throughout the play, in addition to the world of imagination, which Gideon invites Kirsty into as an escape from their problems. Throughout the play, there is mention of butterflies and flowers, which hints at a reference to the freedom that the natural world can bring to one’s imagination.
It is because of the language Fairy Tale Heart was performed in that, to do the play justice I will review it on two levels: from the perceptive of someone who speaks minimal French; and from the perspective of someone like me who can barely manage to say Bonjour. It may have been beneficial to obtain the perspective of a fluent French speaker but in this circumstance this was not possible.
To begin with, the viewpoint of a minimal French-speaker; I was lucky enough to persuade a friend, who studied French at A Level but had not used it in several years, to come with me. From her perspective, the show was well performed and interesting even though she did not fully understand; mainly because of the speed at which the actors spoke. It would have been useful for the theatre to sell copies of the script that could have been perused either before or after the play to aid understanding. Nevertheless, from this perspective the play was enjoyable and certainly worth watching.
Additionally, from the perspective of a non-French speaker, like myself, I found Fairy Tale Heart enjoyable and pleasing to watch. I had been hopeful that my lack of French would not matter as the advertising leaflet claimed it was, ‘Told though imaginative physical theatre, music and French language.’ However, the use of music was minimal and random, (including the Bee Gees’ song Tragedy!) and the dancing was rather questionable and not, in my opinion, physical theatre. The set was simple yet creative with the use of coloured lights, candles and paints scattered around which set the scene for an imaginative play. I was excited when I discovered the theatre was in the round as I love the usual creativity of the direction of plays performed in these spaces; whilst Fairy Tale Heart used the space well, I feel there was a slight failure to utilise it to its full potential. Finally, I was impressed by Cattaneo whose emotions were clear through her facial expressions and body language. Legendre was harder to read, however this was probably due to the sultriness of his character.
Overall, there are a few alterations that would have improved the play, however even without these Fairy Tale Heart was a beautiful piece of drama that I was pleased I watched.
Review by Kat Caunter
Fairy Tale Heart by Philip Ridley
Translated by Marie Mianowski
Directed by Gaspard Legendre
Starring Marie-Stéphane Cattaneo as Kirsty and Gespard Legendre as Gideon
At The Cockpit Theatre on 8th November 2014 at 2.30pm