Created and written by Pierre Guillois, Agathe L’Huillier and Olivier Martin-Salvan. Directed by Pierre Guillois. Until April 28 at Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St. CanadianStage.com or 416-368-3110
Bigre is a delightful romp with moments of extraordinary physical comedy and inventiveness. The show hails from France where it received the 2017 Molière Award for best comedy. The premise is simple, two men live side by side in a cramped Paris apartment building. One is a neat freak, who lives in a sleek white apartment and vacuums the bottoms of his shoes when he enters his place so as not to allow a speck of dirt to enter his bubble of cleanliness. The other man is a hoarder, with stacks of boxes and clutter abounding. Their lives are disrupted when a beautiful woman moves in beside them. Both men are enamored by her and awkwardly compete in trying to seduce her.
The show is performed entirely without words and has a running time of 85 minutes but the night I was in attendance, it ran closer to two hours. There were many laughs throughout but I did feel some of the gags were repeated too often and at a certain point, the show felt like it was going on too long. Especially after they had taken their curtain call and then they launched into another scene. It just felt unnecessary and the show would likely have been stronger had it been kept to a shorter running time.
Bigre is equal parts clowning, melodrama, and physical comedy. The three performers Pierre Guillois (who also co-created and directs the piece), Jonathan Pinto-Rocha and Eléonore Auzou-Connes expertly execute the piece. This is slapstick at its finest with splashes of nudity, an abundance of body fluids and lots of groan worthy potty humour and even live fish and rabbits. I actually found some of the humour disturbingly dark and I genuinely felt uncomfortable. If you have an affinity for rabbits, you will definitely not like aspects of this show.
This is a co-production between Canadian Stage and Théâtre français de Toronto. Much of the magic of the show is created behind the scenes with special effects created by Abdul Alafrez, Ludovic Perché, Judith Dubois and Guillaume Junot. The tightly packed set was designed by Laura Léonard. Sound design by Roland Auffret and Loïc le Cadre, and lighting created by Marie-Hélène Pinon and David Carreira.
I laughed a lot watching this show. The performances are very strong with some truly sublime moments. Aspects of the humour seems childish and others parts take a very dark turn. Overall, I enjoyed this show and it’s a unique theatrical experience.