A Brilliant Dreamscape at On the Boards - The Seattle PI reviews La Mélancolie des dragons Sep 13, 2015
Philippe Queens’s brilliant “La Mélancolie des dragons” starts out at an excruciatingly slow pace. Four unkempt guys in a VW Rabbit are stranded in a snowstorm. They while away the time drinking beer, eating chips and constantly changing music CD’s.
After what seems like hours, a woman on a bicycle (Isabelle, the only character whose name we learn) shows up; they seem to know her and it appears she has arrived to fix the car. Silently and hilariously she opens the hood, then pulls out wires, coils and pipes from under the hood, before climbing into the engine area and disappearing. When she reappears, she calls a local repair shop and discovers it will be a week before they can fix the car.
To pass the time, the group, joined by three companions riding in the trailer attached to the car, offers to show Isabelle their impromptu “amusement park,” a series of kinetic sculptures and dramatic sequences. Gradually it becomes obvious that the snow is man-made and we realize that “La Mélancolie” is essentially a kinetic art installation.
And what an installation! Quesne uses a range of low-tech machines – a fan, portable water fountain, video projector, huge inflatable plastic pillows – to create magical, ever-changing environments. For her part, Isabelle is wowed by every effect, responding with terse but heartfelt comments like “that’s beautiful” or “it’s really high.” Even putting on a pair of cross-country skis astonishes her.
There are times during “La Mélancolie” when it’s hard to know where the show is heading but as with all of Quesne’s work it’s best to just sit back and let the visual spectacle wash over you. If you do, you’ll experience an evening of striking beauty and power you won’t soon forget.