he idea of a mental asylum setting for a theatrical event is certainly not new; in some cases it is an excuse for actors to drool over each other and release their inner mental patient. In ‘Les Pigeons’ the images of the asylum are strictly rationed: take the pills, get the jab, act innocent. But a weird and perfectly plausible idea has infiltrated these minds: we are pigeons and we are on the brink of a revolutionary war.
If this sounds heavy, it isn’t at all. For ‘Les Pigeons’ is a play that manages to combine lightness with profundity; wise cracks, absurd dialogue, crazy physical jinks and a great deal of banter keep it buoyant and appealing. Featuring the creators of the piece Ryan Mayne and Tristan Jacobs, ‘Les Pigeons’ has another unusual feature; it is made up of a series of small scenes as the actors successfully transform into a variety of well-described characters, most of them pigeons, but we never lose sight of the whole. This cohesion and capacity to refer back in a meaningful way to the strong themes that underpin the production give clarity and power to the production.
Ryan and Tristan enjoy a wonderful rapport on stage; there is a strong element of playfulness which underlines their interactions; even when they are at their most sober and most serious the ghost of small smiles plays on their lips and they tune in to each other’s whimsical intelligence. Take, for instance, the scene when the smaller of the two pigeons reports that he has a package to drop and needs to be given the go-ahead. He then shits very thoroughly on a small girl who later dies in an accident as she has been ‘marked by death’. Perhaps that doesn’t sound very funny on paper; but the relative significance of our actions is so often overestimated as a result of our obsessive self importance that this little scenario speaks volumes. As they say: a nod to the wise.
‘Les Pigeons’ was the recipient of the Going Places Award for the Best Original Script 2012. Briefly, Ryan and Tristan impressed with the way they bounced a good idea around and nailed it with some solid meaty thinking; this in turn translated into quirky dialogue full of surprises, excellent physical theatre and brilliant use of simple props. It was a winner!