‘Bijou’ as an adjective means little, desirable, elegant, stylish and chic. As a noun it speaks to it being a jewel or trinket. After seeing the current FollowSpot Productions offering at Kalk Bay Theatre, it is evident that this company’s Bijou perfectly describes what it theatrically represents: an elegant, chic little jewel of a show!
With its faux French style, Bijou is a bit darker than its festive season predecessors Bon Soir, Au Revoir and Caliente, but still very memorable. It imaginatively delivers on its entertainment promise with Vaudeville flair through dance, song, and comedy numbers conceptualised and choreographed by Vannessa Harris and Ash Searle.
Harris, as your naughty-but-nice theatre fairy, guides you through the show in a delightful tongue-in-cheek manner.
The set is deceptively simple, and reveals itself as a box of enchanting theatrical tricks that cleverly elevates the performance and brings extra depth —the effects are breathtaking, especially in the one acrobatic performance of Emily Isted and Ash Searle. (To not give away this specific creative reveal that’s as much of a description as I dare give, so you’ll definitely have to go see Bijou to find out more!)
The banter between the talented dancing brothers, Ash and Brad Searle, is as always a crowd-pleaser. They add comedic elements at exactly the right moments to balance to the dramatic in between the captivating dance routines.
Special mention must be made of Liam Gillespie’s performance. The ease with which he commands your attention when he steps onto the stage is impressive. In his solo performance one almost senses a bit of a Slava Polunin type approach (without the clowning sadness) in that he takes what deceptively appears to be a very modest prop and turns it into a display of dance that carries a strong emotive tone.
The mannequin meets quirky 'boyfriend' dance routine of Brad Searle and Michele La Trobe also makes for a truly charming moment in the show.
The show elements of Bijou is presented in a manner that reminds of a petite glam version of Cirque du Soleil meets Tap Dogs —grand scale effects in a very intimate setting. Because Kalk Bay Theatre is such a beautiful intimate space those with sensitive ears may however need to allow themselves a moment or so to adjust, as the volume of the sound can be bit overwhelming at first. But, once you've given yourself that acclimatisation space I assure you that the stunning, husky voice of Hannah Hishin will blow you away from the start of the show and keep you mesmerised until the very end.
Anyone who is a fan of FollowSpot Production’s fun razzle-dazzle entertainment will love the escapism of Bijou , and those not yet familiar with their well-established performance style will very likely walk out a new fan.
The show may not have a narrative or clear theme thread, but as a selection of routines in a similar style (all calling for great skill and restraint that showcases the talent of FollowSpot's troupe of performers) it does not need to be anything more than it is to live up to its billed promise of presenting “a compilation of visually teasing acts”. Bijou is indeed a feast for the eyes!
You have until 29 December 2018 to see Bijou at Kalk Bay Theatre, and tickets are selling out fast! So book soonest online at www.kalkbaytheatre.co.za and remember to reserve your seat for a pre-show dinner there too —their food, like their shows, are absolutely delightful!