Since the beginning of the eighties we have known the Theater of the Raft and its sumptuous images with shots that deconstruct the space where characters who are not really there and who hold more escapist silhouettes of a dream that appear without no will to say or proclaim any truth.
There has always been in François Tanguy a permanent reference to painting, especially surrealist but also to Kantor. There is nothing to “understand”, as some spectators thought a little disoriented by this new visual and sonic poem that is Eleventh . Referring to the eleventh of Beethoven’s sixteen string quartets. There is just to take, to be carried away by this flow of images, excerpts of texts and music, and to be impregnated.
The work of arranging the different disciplines convened by François Tanguy: orality, gestures, music, scenography and video is always extremely precise, a sine qua non condition, and this is not paradoxical, for this ensemble to work. and produce a stream of poetic images.
We often recognize in low voices, short excerpts from Richard II, the Karamazov brothers and Dostoevsky’s Demons, but also in German, from Hölderlin’s poems, and probably from Dante’s Purgatory when a man speaks of his Lise, and some to Virolese ‘s Bucolics . As for music, it’s also the same kind of quilting that is expertly sewn with, among other things, Beethoven’s famous string quartet, Richter and Leonhardt with Bach’s cantatas, but also a piece of Macbeth operas by Verdi, or Pelleas and Mélisande by Sibelius, choirs of Schubert and the sumptuous music of Purcell funeral … music-through program chosen by François Tanguy – is an essential element of this show that we can apprehend several angles: it is a little to the viewer to reconstruct what he sees, according to the famous word of Vinci: “the pittura é cosa mentale”.
And it works? Yes and no; there are certain moments of intense plastic and musical beauty: Laurence Chable balancing on a board in a twilight sky, Mussolini’s speech in front of helmeted soldiers, and at the end of the show, these fake musicians playing in the empty with recorded music, marvelous shadows of enigmatic characters, a wheelchair-bound Goya old lady who is moved by the scenes: this fragmentation of vision imposed on us by the frames that the actors roll, and the long tables that are all improvised play areas appear to be absolutely relevant, and meet a poetic demand of high quality.
But we must deserve these images and the show still takes two hours twenty, which is probably much too long: we understand that Tanguy needs time, like Wilson at the beginning, to bring us into his universe but the effects tend to be repeated and, suddenly, this theater of images becomes less obvious, especially when Tanguy, who also fell into the pot of video, imposes on the big screen close-ups of leaves and grass not really exciting: we wonder then what he wants to tell us.
And sometimes we have an unpleasant impression of saturation: things happen as if, while mastering perfectly a process of creation, Tanguy could not really get the machine text said / gestuality / images / music happen yet to produce emotion and theatrical pleasure.
So to see? It’s up to you to discover the world of François Tanguy, both a painter and playwright, but knowing that Eleventh , despite his great qualities, is a spectacle, extremely neat but too long and too uneven.