The Toad Knew at The Lowry
The Toad Knew
One of Europe’s most inventive artists - James Thierrée - visits The Lowry with the only two performances outside London of his latest production The Toad Knew. With a family history including Eugene O’Neill and Chaplin, it is no surprise that Thierrée is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest and most creative performers and directors.
The Toad Knew features six characters who emerge into a strange netherworld of steaming water, animalistic machines and sinister objects. The stage is dominated by a huge wire-driven, hovering lantern consisting of multiple sections that continually move and reshape throughout the journey – reminiscent of a creature straight out of Dr Who.
The characters embark on a journey of discovery. I did recognise a tableau of earth, fire, water and air but quite what that journey was seemed unclear. However, the dramaturgy felt irrelevant – this is about the astonishing visual experience. Beautifully grotesque. Unnervingly stunning. Tragically comedic. Amusingly dark. Dreamlike. Nightmarish. Harmoniously discordant.
Whilst the audience at the end may have been slightly smaller than the one at the beginning, for those who experienced every second, this was 90 minutes of pure imaginative delight! The 10 minute curtain call was richly deserved, particularly for the 3 backstage wire operators – a choreographic triumph. Good luck in the Molière Awards on May 29th.
By Garry Thomas-Lowde for Canal St Online
Lyric Theatre, The Lowry: May 10th-11th 2017