She laughs and babbles like a madwoman. Then she leans her head so far backwards that when she puts on a jacket all you see is a decapitated body in repose. This is the physical embodiment of Thierrée’s opium addiction.
Not that James Thierrée really has an opium addiction, but his character in Tabac Rouge does and when it hits him, he jolts back in his armchair and drifts across the stage. A cloud of smoke and a spry contortionist trail along in his wake.
Tabac Rouge did not have an intermission, so at the end of the show it took me and Barret a couple of minutes to digest just what exactly we had seen.
What had we seen?
The centerpiece of the show was a grimy, massive mirrored wall. On the reverse side was a labyrinth of pipes. At the end of the performance the mirror fell into separate pieces that spun like a shattered disco dream.
There was a small troupe of dancers whose movements alternated between mechanical precision, epileptic seizures, and rolling waves.
Then it all ended with the floor swallowing up everyone on the stage.
Barret and I had our own ideas about what it all meant, but all the reviews I read seemed to lead in another direction. The only thing we could agree on was that Tabac Rouge was truly out-of-this-world.
About: Tabac Rouge
How to get to the Sydney Theatre Company: 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay