You are getting sleepy, very sleepy, your eyes want to close, when you open them you’ll be in the enchanted world of illusion, a Victorian-era time warp where carnival barkers beckon, magicians saw women in half and Harry Houdini is about to perform a death-defying feat.
Welcome to Bells and Spells, Aurélia Thierrée’s captivating piece of physical theatre that spins a tale of kleptomania through mime, gesture, stage magic and interpretive dance – but it is so much more than that. Imagine the visual fascination of tango, where two bodies sway in a rhythmic theatre of heaven and hell, not unlike the intricate moves between Thierrée and dance partner Jaime Martinez as they swerve through the enchanted world of the piece.
Yet again, think of the bizarre universe of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ or the intrepid comedy of Chaplin’s Little Tramp, an heroic, mischief-making character spun from the bowels of myth and eulogised in silent-screen slapstick.
Liken this image of a movie screen to a folding screen behind which a magician performs his vanishing tricks. It’s an image that helps describe the unpredictable world of Bells and Spells where a body-less head slips and slides between folds of fabric, a forest of clothes hangers wobble and walk, a dress lashes itself into frenzy, and a kleptomaniac (Aurélia Thierrée) steals objects that whip into life.
But we would not expect anything less innovative from Director Victoria Thierrée Chaplin, who is not only the mother of Aurélia Thierrée, but also the daughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neill – Oona herself being the daughter of the ingenious playwright Eugene O’Neill. It’s as if Victoria and Aurélia, as descendants of this Olympian ancestral tree, have harvested new kinds of transcendental energies while standing on the shoulders of giants.
Bells and Spells can be described in many ways: as a surreal piece of physical theatre; as a heady cocktail of cinematic tropes; as an invention of theatrical wizardry – but words cannot capture its genius. It may be an overused phrase, but Bells and Spells is literally a must-see.
Review by Loretta Monaco
Bells and Spells follows Aurélia Thierrée’s peculiar journey as an incurable kleptomaniac who is at the mercy of the objects that she steals. A coat hanger starts to walk, chairs and a table slide and slip away, while a wall opens up to reveal a pair of dancers, and a dress suddenly takes on a life of its own.
Using ethereal imagery and unpredictable props, this enchanting piece of physical theatre blends the wonderful with the strange. Neither logic, reason nor seriousness has a voice as Aurélia Thierrée and dancer Jaime Martinez guide you through a story which combines surreal humour and a sense of magic.
With Jaime Martinez
BELLS AND SPELLS
A SHOW BY VICTORIA THIERRÉE CHAPLIN