l'effet de serge c'est magnifique

L’effet de serge, the newest offering from Paris-based theater company Vivarium Studios, now playing at 3LD as part of Under The Radar, is a sheer delight. I admit I’m biased. When Philippe Quesne & Co. came to NYC with Itching of the Wings I was working at PS122 and not only had the good fortune to befriend the company but played a bit part in the show. I was so enchanted by their aesthetic that I flew to Paris a few months later to see the premier of a new show, D’apres Nature, which was similarly amazing.

L’effet de serge is about a guy named Serge who invites friends over to his bare apartment to watch him perform short 1 or 2 minutes performances pieces that he makes from found objects. And so we watch him, over the course of 75 minutes, do some of these performances. Sounds simple and it is. Yet with Quesne’s hyperreal style – no acting at all, its like watching people just hang out – the smallest, most mundane gestures take on profound significance. The show is about theater and performance, about the urge to communicate, about the awkwardness of interpersonal relationships. There’s the barest hint of a love story – there’s something beautiful and sad yet hilarious and moving about Serge’s efforts.

And of course part of the magic of Quesne’s work is that though it seems incredibly simple it is actually meticulous and methodical. Because there’s so little “noise” you find yourself concentrating on the most minute gestures, the smallest bits of sound design or variations in lighting. And of course there are a few surprises which I will not divulge here.

If you want to have a rare and wonderful theatrical experience, get your butt down to 3LD and see this show while you can.

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