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Théâtre de la Ville. Dans le cadre du Festival d’Automne. 6/XI/13. The Old Woman. Mise en scène, décors, conception lumières : Robert Wilson, avec Mikhaïl Barychnikov et Willem Dafoe. D’après l’œuvre de Daniil Kharms. Adaptation : Darryl Pinckney. Musique : Hal Willner. Costumes : Jacques Reynaud. Collaboration décors : Annick Lavallée-Benny. Lumière : A.J. Weissbard. Assistant mise en scène : Lynsey Peisinger. Son : Marco Olivieri. Interpréation : Mikhaïl Barychnikov et Willem Dafoe.
Robert Wilson’s new show involves extraordinary acting parts for both Mikhail Baryshnikov and Willem Dafoe, in a stage version of a Russian novel by Daniil Kharms. The Old Woman becomes a two-part/two-voice text, performed by the two narrator-actors, in Russian (his mother tongue) for Baryshnikov, and in English for Dafoe. For an hour and a half, the two white-faced clowns chosen by Wilson perform in a wide gamut of styles in the service of his sophisticated and highly choreographed staging. Both actors must perform successively as tap dancers and revue headliners, at ease both as adepts of Grand Guignol and comedians of the absurd.
As usual, Wilson uses stylized objects and audacious lighting to sculpt and give rhythm to the space in which the actors move. Supple, mobile, especially touching when he speaks in Russian, ex-dancer Baryshnikov is amazing. Wilson’s demands reveal his newly discovered talent as an actor after a remarkable career as a dancer. As his partner, Dafoe’s voice is lower, which lends a welcome ruggedness to the precise direction of the great Wilson. The resulting show, both unusual and spectacular, combines scenes with striking images to serve a poetic, absurd, and little-known text.