We live in a day and age where the concept of gender stereotypes have well and truly been challenged and continue to evolve. Throughout history, the ideals of femininity have been immortalised into paintings, writings and recordings; showing the changing face of what it means to be a woman within society…

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Split into a narrative of 3 episodic chapters, Triptych presents a look into the human psyche with the portrayal of 3 differing female characters; placing the concept of femininity into the limelight. Presented by circus company Bikes and Rabbits, Alice Allart performs an intriguing solo piece of circus trickery, dramatics and eclectic soundtracks.

Chapter 1 presents the case of Nadezhda Vasilyeva, a Russian citizen infamous for her claims of being the real Grand Duchess Anastasia in the 1920s, despite the public’s knowledge of the Royal family being overthrown. A claim that would ultimately dictate the rest of her life, Vasilyeva would find herself imprisoned in a mental asylum, although adamant of her Royal connections. An authoritative voice dominates the space, as Allart childishly and rebelliously responds with wild and sometimes manic episodes of laughter. A white shirt worn by Allart creates the illusion of a straight jacket, a costume piece symbolic of restraint and imprisonment. Interspersed with feats of trickery, Allart Breath takingly balances and stands on her bicycle with ease; an extension of her character as each cycle around the stage depicts a never ending thought process. Pablo Meneu directs an intriguing piece on the delusion of grandeur, however Nadezhda Vasilyeva’s character remains sketchy, leaving the audience wanting to learn more about the character. The sound over powers Allart, at times making her inaudible.

Chapter 2 observes the idea of keeping up appearances as the protagonist reveals her true self behind closed doors. Surrounded by a team of cabbages, Allart impressively stands on them, creating a pathway for herself as if they were stepping stones. The cabbages are reincorporated throughout the performance, a constant reminder of her reality of having to prepare lunches and dinners. Allart randomly bursts into song, the performance taking on an x-factor style Karaoke competition as she releases her inhibitions and serenades the audience, if not slightly but intentionally out of tune. Accompanied by a ‘Something Special Here’ sign, Allart continues on with the talent show theme, as she imaginatively performs a routine with her stilettos from creating an imaginary dance partner whilst she performs a ballroom inspired routine, to the stilettos taking a life all of their own and controlling the performer by pulling her towards different directions. Rob Tannion directs a fun yet surreal chapter, deconstructing the conventional use of stilettos, a symbol of beauty and femininity by incorporating them into a clowning routine.

The final chapter places Chang’E, a traditional Chinese Opera singer at the forefront of the performance. Taking on an array of transformations, Allart, presents a spectrum of Operatic characters from the display of masks placed in front of her on the floor. Each mask is an indicator of the choreography’s complexity; from the intricate hand placements of the white mask, to the acrobatic and athletic movements of the red mask, as Allart astoundingly balances on a tightrope showcasing her strength and versatility as a circus performer. Rishi Trikha and Jean Giraud direct a mesmerising portrait of a female performer becoming a chameleon before our very eyes, complimenting Allart’s skills especially in the case of the tightrope routine. Antonin Le Gargasson’s sound design compliments the production, an eclectic soundtrack flitting from Classical music to Chinese Opera. 3/5

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Triptych was on at Jackson Lane Theatre from 10th April-12th April. For more information on any of Bikes and Rabbits future performances, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop