On Wednesday 26th January, about 200 people came to Atelier 231’s Tender hall to see the show launching the 2nd edition of the Fish & Chips festival : Variety at The Atelier 231 from British company Slightly Fat Features.
Created in 2008, this show is one of the few of their existing shows to be performed indoors. “But the atmosphere of this multi-disciplinary cabaret, mixing performance, music, songs, mime, juggling, magic, etc. perfectly reflects the spirit we wanted to this 2nd festival edition to have” Daniel Andrieu, Atelier 231’s Director notes, on France 3 TV a few days before.
It is the first time the company performs the show in France, or even outside the UK. But the tradition on this show is that the company adapts it to the venue they are performing at. Hence a taylor-made Sotteville version ’Variety at Atelier 231’.
A silent movie is shown on a white sheet, showing one of the artists’ journey from his home town in the UK to Atelier 231. From the crossing on the ferry through to the streets in Rouen city centre and finally Sotteville-lès-Rouen…and the film even includes the artist arriving at the gate of the Fish & Chips !
The kids are immediately charmed by the world of acrobatics and burlesque created by the company. They instantly react to each of the acts and a connivance develops between them and the artists. The language barrier sometimes creates some funny and touching situations.
One of the artists – the only one speaking French- is trying to translate some of the songs ’on the fly’, triggering a laugh from the audience. His accomplices are gobsmacked, though amazed by his language skills, without having a clue about what he is on about !
As well as entertaining the audience, the company looks like they’re having a great fun with each other too. The audience feels it and thanks them for it.
For an hour, acts follow on, one after the other, with an amazing pace, and it feels like eating a big fat layered cake. Oh well, even if our ’features’ become ’slightly fat’, we’d have another piece of it, thank you !
Photos : Caroline Lelong et Sylvain Marchand