CRITICAL – At the Théâtre de la Bastille, Simon Gauchet sets off in search of Atlantis. A captivating spectacle with infinite echoes.
In the distance, we hear voices ling, stories of dreams. On the set, covered with a canvas, an actress (Cléa Laizé) and three actors (Yann Boudaud, Rémi Fortin, Gaël Baron) fell asleep. What are they thinking? When Cléa wakes up, she goes to the back of the stage and writes this sentence on a black wall: “Try to remember or, failing that, invent. » Then she turns to the audience: “Did any of you dream last night?” »
And continues: “What’s tricky with dreams is managing to hold them back when you wake up, before everything is swallowed up as if the tide were suddenly rising again. » From this sentence which would appear as trailer, we glimpse the theme of Simon Gauchet’s play. It will be a quest of imagination. This quest will be exciting, remarkable, philosophical and poetic. Let’s take a closer look, let’s touch the ineffable center of this story…
This is divided into thirteen sequences including archives and memories. Archives ? The wish of the German intellectual Dietmar Kamper, who had the project, at the end of the 1980s, with other Berlin researchers, not to find a sunken country, Atlantis, but rather that of “untangle the initial catastrophe which confronts us with the problem of memory or rather that of repression”.
Sometimes located off the Spanish, Portuguese or Moroccan coasts, near the Canaries or Cape Verde, Atlantis has been lying under the ocean for millennia. For ten thousand years? Two of the characters in the play, Yann and Rémi, who always looks like an elf, remind us that Plato, in the Timaeus and the Critiasaffirmed the historical existence of this disappeared continent where a marvelous empire had been formed governed by kings whose “power extended not only over this whole island, but also over many other islands and parts of the continent.” And this marvelous empire was defeated, an initial catastrophe, by Athens on the orders of Zeus, against Poseidon, god of the ocean.
A disconcerting funny
After this Platonic exposition, the canvas on which the actress and the actors were lying begins to rise with a friction, like the mainsail of a drifting ship being hoisted. The heavy canvas turns around and reveals a cloudy sky. This magical moment – which is only the first – would almost make us think of a Fellinian production. From then on, the show will oscillate between the quest of the Berlin researchers and that of the troupe’s actors.
And this is how Rémi (Fortin) will tell us, with disconcerting humor, his trip to Santorini – another possible location of the myth of Atlantis; and this is how our actors will show us the primitive cave of Cougnac or how Cléa (Laizé) will tell us, in a moment of pure grace, the story of a painting (by a certain Madeleine Card) which served as a setting, in the 1930s, at Gounod’s opera Mireille.
After The Beautiful World, his previous show, Simon Gauchet continues his work on buried worlds. He knows that the golden age left a deep mythical memory. This boy who beautifies everything he touches never ceases to amaze. The height of elegance, it never weighs.
The Great Tideat the Théâtre de la Bastille (Paris 12e), until November 24. Such. : 01 43 57 42 14. www.theatre-bastille.com