The spider’s world is destroyed by thoughtless action. Again and again. L’Araignée seeks to transcend language with movement, sounds, and rhythm, as it brings you into the world of the spider and a yearning to escape the cycle.
Should you see it?
My first thought after L’Araignée ended was “how am I going to write about that?” I think it is best described as a living piece of art that you’re inside. More than that, it’s a living piece of art that you have a part in helping create.
L’Araignée is about the creation of a world. More correctly, it’s about the cycle of creation and destruction and the frustration that comes from that destruction and the desire to escape it. At least that’s the simplified version of what I gleamed from it.
That the text of L’Araignee is largely in French shouldn’t be even close to a stopping point for you. The text is only a small part of a show that’s largely built from poetry, rhythm, movement, and immersion. I’ve got decent French comprehension thanks to high school bilingualism I’ve since let lapse, but even if you don’t understand all the words, you’ll understand the emotion and the intent. Your experience will be different depending if you’re fluent or can’t even say hello, but it will be no less an experience. (If you know the basics from reading this review, you’ll get along fine without any French at all.)
A lot of shows try to promise that they’re different from the average Fringe show because they’re slightly different in tone or genre or cast numbers, but they’re all generally the same experience. You go in, you sit down, you watch the show play out on stage in front of you, you applaud, you leave.
L’Araignée is thoroughly different than anything else at Ottawa Fringe.
You start by entering the Art Gallery in Arts Court (a perfect venue for this show) where you’re handed small head lanterns to wear. Yes, the audience is part of the lighting plan for L’Araignée. You’re then led into the other room, where it really begins.
I won’t dare spoil what happens next and onwards but L’Araignee is more than just a show. What happens unfolds in front of, a few feet away from, and all around you. You’re immersed in this heavily movement-driven piece in a way that you can’t help but feeling a part of it. By the end, L’Araignee has become a communal experience between all who are party to it. Trying to describe it further, I end up writing in prose and poetical analogy, which I think would hurt the experience for you by adding definition to what you should define for yourself. Suffice to say, there’s no escaping the feeling that you’ve been party to the creation of something beautiful.
And that, is a truly remarkable thing.
Without a doubt, L’Araignée is a unique experience. If you’re looking for something different, this is it. Two beings from a destroyed world tell their story. In a way, destruction and creation are inextricably linked, and this is the central theme of L’Araignée. I agree that this is a difficult piece to write about; I’m sure every person will have a different reaction to it.
If you speak enough French to know the translation of the title, you know enough to see this show. L’Araignée is physical poetry, featuring mesmerizing movement and engaging emotional intensity from Catherine Boutin and Chloé Tremblay. However, I did find myself wishing there had been more chances to directly interact with the performance, since L’Araignée is billed as an interactive performance piece.
Then again, it’s impossible not to feel like you’re involved when you’re essentially a part of the show. During the action, you’re encouraged to move around, to stay standing, to sit where you want. By the end, you’re a part of something, and it immediately connects you with the performers as well as everyone else in the audience. L’Araignée is more than just theatre; it’s an experience.
How did you feel when you left L’Araignée? How did your understanding of French (or not) colour your experience? Join the discussion and tell me in the comments below.