Archikulture Digest

L’Ange Avec Les Fleurs

L’Ange Avec Les Fleurs

Directed by Rocky Hopson

Garden Theater

Winter Garden, FL</strong>

What’s more French than a wheezy accordion? Why, a French Melodrama starring a wheezy accordion, of course. “L’Ange Avec Les Fleurs” (The Angel with the Flowers) recalls the France as a mythical land, filled with joie de’vivre, love and loveable scoundrels. “L’Ange” began life as the slightly raunchier “La Putain Avec Les Fleurs” (The Prostitute with the Flowers) at the 2002 Fringe Festival and has undergone several revisions and extensions that improve the show, extending the original 45 minutes into an experience twice as long and twice as interesting.

Stephan LeCoq (Chris Gibson) leads the Theatre Des Funambules (Theater of Wire Walkers), a direct nod to the classic French film “Les Enfants du Paradis.” Its 1940 France and the Germans have arrived uninvited, with stern Mr. Germany (Michael Lane) admonishing the cast and audience to only have wholesome fun, and not too much of that. He’s universally greeted with fart noises and represents the sort of mockable authority that infests the universe. Assisting LeCoq are stick thin Pierre LeFleurs (Chris McIntyre) and femme fatal Isabelle Belle (Cami Alys Yankwitt). The band Bric-A-Brac sits stage right as accordionist Tabarin (Rob Houle) comments on the action and offers advice. We soon meet Baptiste (Gibson) at the peak of his circus career, yet a dispirited man seeking something new. He heads off in a cardboard taxi cab with the advice “All roads take you somewhere new, yet they all take you back to where you are right now.” Baptise’s story is a search for self, and he tries manual labor, married life, and monastery before he learns the greatest story telling truth of all – what you want is right here in Kansas or Toulouse. It’s advice that can only come from experience – we all must learn it over and over again.

“L’Ange” updates an old European form of Comedia Del Arte, and features a non stop barrage of corny music, gently off-color jokes, mime, puppetry, and what ever else might be salvable from the old Vaudeville days. Our friend The Big French Bear (Lane) appears several times, and while he’s scared a few children in his time, tonight he behaves like a good Bear. The original plywood Puppet Theater Box from 2002 reappears and makes the entire world of Baptise and his friends come to life. This potentially scattershot show comes together to form a unified whole from the preshow audience harassment to the closing number under the excellent direction of Rocky Hopson, the shows creator.

This traditionally structured pantomime never feels old or out of date and sports the sort of physical jokes kids appreciate and carefully calibrated double entendre they ought to miss. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the gorgeously restored Garden Theater, and well worth the drive.

For more information on The Garden Theatre in Winter Garden, please visit http://wgtheater.org


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