The Fantasist was first presented at the Blue Elephant Theatre last year as a work-in-progress under the title Barbe Bleue. Inspired by Julia Yevnine’s own experiences as a carer, Theatre Témoin created a piece about mental illness that illuminates the important issues without being didactic. The company’s research has included a series of puppetry workshops with bipolar sufferers with Walthamstow NHS, and feedback from the North East London NHS Foundation Trust.
Using an exciting blend of puppetry, object
manipulation, physical theatre, and original music the
company explores bipolar disorder, shedding new light on a
woman's internal struggle against the swirl of extreme
moods. Louise is a French artist who becomes so obsessed
with her work that she ends up in hospital. The only real
person in her life is her carer Josie but Louise creates
her own world that is dominated by a blue man who seduces
Louise but treats her like a puppet on a string.
Louise cannot sleep. She hears eerie noises and turns from side to side until the bed swallows her pillow and her bedding. Drawers open and close by themselves, a lamp moves across the room. While Louise is caressing a coat it suddenly comes alive and changes into a blue man who inspires her to paint again. Louise is enthralled – but where are her brushes? Other characters appear, some resembling mutilated muppets, another an evil witch. Her little unfinished sculpture, a small puppet that cannot speak, begs for her affection.
Theatre Témoin create a universe of strange and wondrous creatures, full of surprises, without neglecting to show Louise’s torment and terror as she gets caught up and completely overwhelmed by her own imagination.
Julia Yevnine is quite wonderful as Louise. Julia Correa and Cat Gerrard do outstanding work as the puppeteers, bringing furniture and puppets to life.
Don’t miss this unique show!
By Carolin Kopplin
Tuesday 28 February - Saturday 17 March
Days of the week
Tuesday - Saturday
£6.50 (Southwark residents)
Post show discussions
Tuesdays 6th and 13th March
Blue Elephant Theatre, 59a Bethwin Rd, (entrance in Thompson's Ave), Camberwell, London, SE5 0XT