nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
February 25, 2012
Sandrine Lafond’s solo show Little Lady is exquisitely executed and utterly esoteric. In this clown-based movement theatre piece, Lafond depicts a character that appears to be part clown, part old woman and part little girl. The program informs us that the show is about our “modern obsession with image.”
The character sleeps on the ground, the artistic representation of a dog sleeping. She wakes, cleans herself (first by licking a toe, then spritzing herself with water from a spray bottle). She is fun and silly—she spritzes the water in her mouth as well and sniffs at the audience. Aided by a small cane, she comes to standing. She watches TV, humorously knitting along to a program. Then it is time to eat! She eats enthusiastically. She sleeps. In the night, she wrestles with the yarn padding her stomach. She awakens in the morning and begins the same routine, yet she has already transformed—the cane is no longer needed, her stomach is no longer bulky and the joyous eating is tinged with moments of nausea.
Lafond continues to transform before us—her body mutates, bulky clothing is discarded, and humanness and femininity begin to outweigh the more innocent animal qualities. Her journey, riddled with bad dreams, culminates in an enigmatic video.
Lafond, a dancer and former Cirque du Soleil performer, is precise, engaging and warm. Her clowning abilities are very strong and the piece is very polished. Costume designer Nelly Rogerson (assisted by John Stone) has created an admirably versatile, amorphous design for Lafond—a costume that grows (or rather sheds) with the character and provides a visual clue as to the journey that is occurring before us. Director John Turner has molded Little Lady into a tight, professional piece with steady pacing and some lovely stage pictures.
Yet, I wanted more—I wanted to get more of a specific message from the show and better insight into this intriguing hybrid character. The team is so talented that I feel like there is the potential for this show to engage more and to challenge its viewer more.