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Les Naufrages du Fol Espoir (Aurores)

Lowland Hall, Royal Highland Centre
5 stars
Before Theatre du Soleil’s four hour epic on life, death, revolution 
and the creative impulse itself has even begun, you’ve already entered 
into another world via a foyer transformed into an illusory idyll. With 
the company’s vast ensemble cast visible through a gauze curtain 
preparing themselves in makeshift dressing rooms, such an occupation 
sets the tone for an astonishing spectacle on a huge purpose-built 
wooden stage that recreates that contained in the company’s Paris home.

What translates as Castaways of the Fol Espoir (Sunrises) is ostensibly 
based on a posthumously published Jules Verne novel, in which a pair of 
Socialist idealists attempt to make a film on no money as the First 
World War’s early rumblings begin to stir. Director  Ariane Mnouchkine, 
writer Helene Cixous and an army of collaborators have created 
something so exquisitely self-reflexive that it goes some way to 
capturing the spirit and wisdom of Theatre du Soleil’s own utopian 

With the would-be auteurs equally ambitious movie told in nine 
increasingly urgent episodes watched over by primitive hand-held 
cameras that distance us from the action, the voyage the Fol Espoir 
becomes a microcosm of doomed humanity. There is a sensational fluidity 
to the stream of stage pictures, conjured up with little more than a 
few blankets and a few painted stage-flats that show off the full 
artifice of such a fictional folly.

After early bursts of on-set knockabout antics, by the second half the 
film-set has become a little republic, and the piece’s full-blown 
profundity has become clear in a vivid and unmissable portrait of 
humanity’s capacity for invention against all the odds.

The Herald, August 24th 2012



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