Julien Cottereau – Imagine-toi ****

Julien Cottereau in Imagine-toi

Julien Cottereau in Imagine-toi. Image courtesy of the EdFringe Media Office

Assembly @ Princes Street Gardens, 5 – 29 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 664)

The power of Julien Cottereau’s imagination knows no bounds. He has only to imagine a ball to make it as tangible for the audience as for himself. When he imagines an adorable suffering puppy, no one has the heart to put it out of its imaginary misery. From the moment he imagines that an audience member is actually a monstrous ogre, that person’s footsteps shake Princes Street Gardens to their very foundations.

That it’s all done with mime and mouth noises makes the experience more, not less, magical. Cottereau’s library of mouth-and-microphone sound effects is truly encyclopaedic. Some embarrassment is unavoidable for those he volunteers to join him on stage, but it’s amply balanced in most cases by the fantastical soundtrack he provides for them.

While the action consists largely of family-friendly silliness, it isn’t all just make-believe for its own sake. Right from the start Cottereau conjures a cruelly authoritarian but currently slumbering monster in the next room, deftly adding an undertone of rebellion – of imagination as refuge from oppression – to this daft yet moving spectacle.

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