A short film produced, directed, photographed and edited by Ben Philippi and Barthelemy Glumineau starring the talented Mr. William Bonnet. Music by The Roots.
A short film produced, directed, photographed and edited by Ben Philippi and Barthelemy Glumineau. Starring the talented Mr. Eric Bates.
‘Republic of Dreams’ vague, but spellbinding
You don’t have to know a thing about Bruno Schultz to have a great time at “Republic of Dreams.”
Barthelemy Glumineau — a French clown currently in the Cirque du Soleil production of “Love” at The Mirage — has put together a smoky, brooding, sometimes funny and always touching one-man pantomime inspired by the Polish author’s writings. (He died at the age of 52 at the hands of the Nazis.) Glumineau makes no attempt to give information about Schultz. He just creates a character who experiences similar existential dilemmas in trying to construct a comfortable life.
The performer/director/writer keeps things vague. We’re in what looks like an attic of some type, with an arbitrary selection of ordinary objects: a wooden table, a chair, blankets, a stagecoach wheel, a butcher knife, a mold of clay, a series of mobiles, a small, cathedral-like window. For the next 45 minutes or so, Glumineau does battle with the objects, and wins and loses in unexpected ways. In a curious development, a door opens and a beautifully pure light beckons him. He smiles contentedly and you think he’s going to walk into peace. Instead, he turns away from his “salvation” and continues his sufferings in the room.
The script has a Beckett feel, and is similar in set-up to “Act Without Words.” But it’s much more surprising than you’d expect, and not as dramatically pact. Glumineau’s movements, style and sense of character are superb, but you’re also mesmerized by the play’s events. You want to make sense of the breathtaking impressions. Glumineau is hesitant offstage to offer much about the meaning of his play, but it’s safe to say that at the very least it’s about a man who learns to deal, in uncomfortable ways, with life’s realities.
The action is frequently enhanced by traditional Catholic hymnals, and the lights (by Eugen Brim) give the atmosphere a pictorial, somber mood, that I took as an homage to Schultz’s secondary career as a painter.
I think the show could gain by a slightly clearer dramatic structure (Cirque performers seem to loathe structure), and a longer playing time, or at least a companion piece to flesh out the evening. But Glumineau’s production is, as is, spellbinding. It’s another exciting chapter in the strengthening union between Strip and community.