'Leo' enchants, asking 'Which way is up?'

William Bonnet seems to defy gravity in "Leo."
William Bonnet seems to defy gravity in "Leo." (ANDY PHILLIPSON)
Posted: September 15, 2013

The concept behind Y2D Productions' Leo is, like most great ideas, deceptively simple. On one side of the stage, there's a screen: vertical, rectangular. Next to it, there's a room: ceiling, floor, two walls, lightbulb, horizontal, rectangular. In the room, performer William Bonnet sprawls on the floor, feet pressed against a red wall. That room and everything he does in it appears onscreen, but tilted 90 degrees. That's all.

But what a difference 90 degrees makes. Leo gleefully defies the laws of gravity. As Bonnet climbs the walls, his bowler hat and tie refuse to behave as they ought, flying upward when they should fall. His gravity-bound movements mimic precisely the angles and postures of upright behavior - a tilted head, strutting gait - and while it's a delight to scan both Bonnets, toggling between his magic and the secrets of that magic revealed, the show's creator, Tobias Wegner, and director, Daniel Briere, know this one trick will grow thin long before their hour's up. Once a bit - a singing briefcase, a chalk-drawn living room - has been explored, they wisely shift the production's theme another 90 degrees by adding animation, or switching music and mood from Tchaikovsky to techno.

Wegner includes among the show's influences Fred Astaire's famous ceiling dance from The Royal Wedding, but it's easy to spot a wide range of influences, from Buster Keaton to Alfred Hitchcock to Canadian multimedia theater artist Robert Lepage. Wegner is Berlin-based, while Briere is Canadian and Bonnet is French, though he has performed with Montreal-based FringeArts favorites 7 Fingers. The show was also a hit at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

All this is to say that Leo has a universal appeal (assisted by its lack of dialogue), and is perhaps best-suited of all this festival's offerings to drop jaws of every age.

But even more important at every age is the reminder that a subtle shift in perspective can change everything.


Playing at: Arts Bank, 601 S. Broad St. Saturday, 2 p.m.; Sunday, noon, 4 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 6 p.m.; Friday, 6 p.m., 9 p.m.; Sept. 21, 2 p.m.; Sept. 22, noon, 4 p.m. Tickets: $20-$29. 215-413-1318 or www.FringeArts.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|