My one regret about Au Revoir Parapluie, playing now at Chicago Shakespeare on Navy Pier, is that I didn’t get in to see it earlier in the run. The hauntingly beautiful show closes Saturday, and unfortunately, it’s sold out this year. In case its creator, James Thierree, returns to Chicago, I’ll tell you about it anyway.
Why is the show so great? First, I’ve never seen anything exactly like it. Imagine taking the stunts of Cirque de Soleil, the quirky-meets-psychedelic aesthetic of Chicago’s own Redmoon, and the ferocious dance ability of, say, a company like Momix. Plop all of those elements on a stage, wind it up, and let it go. Particularly top notch—as in, you can’t get much better on a Chicago stage—are the acrobatic stunts (most of which take place on a giant mop in the center of the stage—no kidding), and the dance moves of the freakishly flexible Kaori Ito.
Second, it’s worth it if only to see Thierree in action. The grandson of Charlie Chaplin, Thierree is the fantastic mime, dancer, acrobat, and, well, actor who conceived this whole enterprise. I hesitate to use that word “actor,” because this isn’t a play and there is no real text. It’s more like a spectacle: lots of dance and aerial acrobatics, stunning imagery, and kooky convertible costumes that would delight Heidi and Co. on Project Runway. The storyline? Well, logical it ain’t. I took my friend Elisabeth who’s visiting from Paris, and, well, neither of us was quite sure what was going on. It seemed to me a little more along the lines of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but, beyond that, I have no idea.It doesn’t really matter. Honestly. You understand enough of what’s going on—love and loss—to let it go. I guess my only other regret is that I didn’t ask Chicago Shakespeare for an interview with James Thierree. You have to wonder what’s going on in the head of someone who can crank out something so sad and haunting, but funny—yes, funny! I guess he’s like the rest of us: hopeful that there is love and beauty in the world, but kinda cracked on how to find it.
Photography: Richard Haughton/Courtesy of Chicago Shakespeare