Friday, 26 June 2009


conceived and performed by

Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage, Russell Maliphant

Sadlers Wells in association with Ex Machina & Sylvie Guillem

Lighting Designer ~ Michael Hulls

Costume Designer ~ Alexander McQueen

Sound Designer - Jean-Sebastien Cote

Due to phenomenal demand for tickets during its world premiere season at Sadler's Wells earlier in 2009, Eonnagata returns for a limited run.

This brand new Sadler's Wells production brings together three of the world's foremost creative minds: internationally acclaimed dancer
Sylvie Guillem, world-renowned theatre-maker Robert Lepage and award-winning choreographer Russell Maliphant.

tells the story of the Chevalier d'Éon, Charles de Beaumont - diplomat, writer, swordsman and a member of the King's Secret, a network of spies under the control of Louis XV. De Beaumont was perhaps the first spy to use transvestitism in the furtherance of his duties and until the day he died his true gender was a source of constant speculation, even provoking public bets in the late 18th century.

"The alchemist of modern imagistic theatre, Robert Lepage is one of the most challenging and chimeric directors of our time" THE GUARDIAN

For this remarkable collaboration,
Guillem, Lepage andMaliphant draw not only from their respective backgrounds, but also from the ancient Kabuki technique of Onnegata - in which male actors portray female roles in an extremely stylised fashion.

The elaborate costumes of Louis XV's court will be evoked by legendary fashion designer
Alexander McQueen, complemented by stunning lighting from Michael Hulls.

mostly dreadful - i haven't been so bored or cross in a theatre for a very long time.

1. Le Page swinging tin foil swords

2. Guillem telling us the whole Chevalier d'Eon story

3. Maliphant emerging from a giant geisha

4. Long boring bit skidding over tables to Bach

5. Fan dance with Empress of Russia with a large red fan and singing up from bass profundo to soprano shrilling

6. Fighting with a feather quill to a coarse poem & then writing with a sword to her mother then the old lady appears out of the table

7. Twirling sticks

8. Calico shadow show

9. Nice story from "Plarto who we call Plato" about original species with both genders two heads & double arms & legs til Zeus decides to literally cut us down to more manageable size - in half like an apple - and ever since we've been looking for our other half

10. Fighting with ring & stick

11. Short guillotine sequence with a skull head

12. Mirror tables including two tops with one mirrored bottom

13. Post-mortem under a swinging neon light

Lots of great ingredients that never quite manage to come together into anything very wonderful. The costumes are so exquisite and the lighting so visceral it often feels like watching an extra esoteric fashion show. The sound too is great and often dominant & rich enough to satisfy for itself.
there are moments that hold but the narrative interest is pierced by hearing the full story at the start, the spectacle of the scenography is insufficiently spectacular, and the performances are too often too lack-lustre and ordinary to hold so that I was actually bored through several sequences. And in the end it all just didn't add up to much more than very expensive looking flummery.

A sad story of how many talents can end up cancelling each other out.

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