Les Inrockuptibles


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Les Inrockuptibles 7-13 July 2009


Les Déplacements du problème

Part of the Festival Agora, at l’Ircam. And 9 and 10 July as part of the festival Paris Calling in London.


“Unless there’s been a mistake”, “Or not”, “At least, that’s what I understood…” Sometimes very little is necessary for communication to be scrambled or to become hazy. A word, an interjection, an exterior sound, and the meaning is suddenly deformed, or even becomes its opposite. The three expressions listed above are doubt emitters. By stepping on a pedal, Pascale Murtin, Bettina Atala and François Hiffler, punctuate their remarks with these short interjections. The effect is guaranteed hilarity. Try it yourself, and you’ll see – “or not.”

With this new show, the brilliant Grand Magasin use their subtle humor and their art of the combinatorial to compose an amusing journey, punctuated with misunderstandings. Using techniques of transformation and emitting sound lent to them by the Ircam, they create a human geography that is rich in disturbances. Thankfully, every problem has its solution.

To neutralize the sound of a vacuum cleaner, for example, there is the absorbing rug which absorbs sound. Other inventions right out of the “Concours Lepine”(a French contest for inventors) are also presented, like the contradicting machine, which says the exact opposite of what you’re saying. Let us also mention the “bubble of distraction”, a space where the person who crosses it forgets what they were just saying or doing. Or, the “negative echo”, which can be heard before you speak…

Tenacious and consistent in their method, our three crafty performers multiply the number of occasions to misunderstand each other or to lose their trains of thought. Like, for instance, the moment when one of the characters begins a soapbox-rant who, if we weren’t paying attention, could sound like a politician, except… not at all.

Jumping from misinterpretation to confusion, this hilarious show goes on its merry way with increasing perplexity. An ironic reflection of a world saturated with new technology in which we evolve, “or not…” A success which, from time to time, evokes the world of Jacques Tati. “At least, that’s what I understood…”