Le Devoir Culture | Saturday, 17th Septembre 2011| p. C11 Théâtre - Sylvie Nicolas
Photo: Karine Côté
“This production has moments of theatre which are moments of pure grace. Moments when the magic operates carefully and in-depth without taking away from either the comedy or the tragedy of the Odyssey. “Tubby and Nottubby” from Theatre Fools and Feathers are all of these.
The epic starts out with Tubby (Louis Fortier) and Nottubby (Sophie Brech) in despair and wanting to end it all on the banks of the Thames. They travel from this to the dream of what possibilities life might offer. Between the two extremes of life and death, the large hand of Destiny plays like a puppeteer pulling on the strings of these two misfits. They get parachuted into the middle of world war two and the oblivion of a desert, only to be transported to the vast expanses of stormy seas. From here they are pushed into an allegory of a journey through several levels of hell, before being gently led towards a touching but very simple desire to have a life, and to be alive with each other.
There is nothing simplistic in this production. The layers of direction are multiple and they are spread well with beyond a wink at Shakespeare. Tubby and Nottubby escapes the stereotype and its unique signature is about the direction of human existence.
One slips seamlessly between close friendships and societal conflict, between English and French, between the clash of personal identity and the torment of the 20th century, between the political and the poetic.
It demonstrates the power of simplicity, that stripped of all pretensions, there is only one formidable weapon left, which will counter any blow struck by Destiny: and that is Sincerity.
If there are any blemishes, we do not notice them because of the power of the personalities on stage, and the way they use the props - the poignant use of battered old suitcases, the beauty of the scenery and its brilliant use of swathes of curtains and colours to describe the storms and tempests that speak with rage to pose the question – “to be, or not to be”.
We approach the end of the show wanting to treasure these moments of priceless art, and the bond this piece establishes with the majestic tradition of the Russian Slava. Artworks of Renaud Penelle paint a theatrical picture on stage with traces of tenderness, of gentle smiles and of a celestial presence. The music, sound and lighting imbue the whole production with a force and a depth that describes some of the best moments in poetry. Tubby and Nottubby offers at the same time the serious and the light touches of childhood, the touch of a feather in flight, and the beat of the wings of a butterfly.”
Théâtre- Quand l'inestimable de l'art se manifeste. Critique du "Destin tragi-comique de Tubby et Nottubby" Le Devoir Culture, samedi, 17septembre 2011, p. C11 Théâtre - Sylvie Nicolas
The tragi-comic destiny of Tubby et Nottubby: Bells from Heaven
“Their names are Louis Fortier and Sophie Brech. He is Québécois; she is British. They have lived in Europe for nearly 15 years. Since then, these specialists in the arts of mask and clown work together in a wide range of productions. In 2009, the actors founded their own company, Fools and Feathers, based in Paris, and they created the tragi-comic destiny of Tubby and Nottubby.
The couple are undertaking a Canadian tour of 35 shows, of which a dozen will be shown in the Fred-Barry room until November 5 2011.
The curtains open on one evening at Christmas when two solitary and desperate tramps (Tubby and Nottubby) plan to finish with life by jumping into the ice-cold water of the Thames. Fortunately, their impromptu meeting changes their plans. What if there were still possibilities for a better life?
A series of adventures follow during which, against winds and tides, Tubby and Nottubby continue this universal search for happiness.
Right from the outset, the tragi-comic destiny of Tubby and Nottubby sets a unique tone for the events that follow. In this world everything is play and invention. The boundaries of their imaginations are infinite. For luggage, the characters have two battered suitcases, some curtains, vegetable strainers on their heads … and the nose of a clown.
That is enough for them. Helped by projections of luminous cartoons and beautiful sound effects, the actors make us plunge into a rich universe full of allegory, where joy often goes
hand-in-hand with sadness. And the other way around.
The production also recalls several Shakespearean themes (in addition to the ‘canard’ in the title). But always in an eccentric way: the way the actors introduce Hamlet’s skull and the character of Brutus from Julius Caesar is a theatrical experience not to be missed. This opens up in a scene called the Caesar Show which manages to transform even the emperor into a humorist who, microphone in hand, invites the audience to challenge his Fate.
In this form of Burlesque, Louis Fortier takes pleasure in improvising in tune with the Odyssey, showing the control and judgment of a master. With physiques that are in total contrast with each other, Brech and Fortier recall Laurel and Hardy - two comics at the same time dissimilar and inseparable.
But they also recall Vladimir and Estragon, or even the vagrants who search for direction and hope in Beckett’s Godot.
Except that here, the dream does not suffer from cynicism or despair. Because, at the end of the day, the creators of Tubby and Nottubby have a naive freshness which protects them from the dark forces - especially in the final scene, which is worthy of a chapter from Disney. It is as if the actors represent the eternal child, always ready to be filled with wonder.
Montreal, Collaboration spéciale, La Presse: 24.10.2011