Review: HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The Garden of Earthly Delights

by Lynn on April 22, 2017

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Bluma Appel Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Created, Choreographed, Lighting, Sets, Costumes and Videos by Marie Chouinard
Filmed segments written and directed by Marie Chouinard.
Cast: Charles Cardin-Bourbeau
Sébastien Cossette-Masse
Catherine Dagenais-Savard
Valeria Galluccio
Motrya Kozbur
Morgane Le Tiec
Scott McCabe
Sacha Ouellette-Deguire
Carol Prieur
Clémentine Schindler

An arresting, unsettling ultimately dazzling creation by Marie Chouinard that illuminates the triptych by Hieronymus Bosch.

And in a change of pace, I’m reviewing a dance piece called Hieronymus Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights that has been scripted, directed, choreographed, and had its set, costumes, video and lighting created by Marie Chouinard, danced by her troupe of 10.

The Story. For the story creator/choreographer Marie Chouinard was commissioned by ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands to create a piece that commemorated the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch, their most famous citizen.

Hieronymus Bosch was a painter from the Netherlands who lived from 1450 to 1516.

He painted the famous triptych that makes up The Garden of Earthly Delights. The painting depicts the Garden of Delights, Hell and Paradise. There is such detail in the three panels that depict humanity in various pairings and configurations.

The Performance. For her piece Marie Chouinard focused on the triptych of Bosch. So the piece is divided into three: Act I is The Garden of Delights; Act II is Hell; Act III is Paradise.

Two large doors upstage open slowly to reveal the triptych in full detail. Then it looks as if the whole painting is moving forward but is not, it is just expanding in our view.

Creator/choreographer/director Marie Chouinard examined and explored each panel in detail—there are pairings of characters in the painting, groups, singles, and all manner of combinations.

First The Garden of Delights is observed. A woman enters, the movements are jerky and tentative as if life has just been given to her and she’s feeling her way. She is topless as are all the women but they wear flesh coloured tights. The bodies look uniformly pale white as if they are painted that way. The men are topless, but wear dance belts. Somehow I don’t think that’s fair. Surely they should be bottomless? Again, the movements are jerky but innocent.

The men and women explore each other but not sexually and not erotically. There is a freedom—for example the long hair on the men and women is not tied back tightly—but is allowed to flow flowing.

Act II—Hell is depicted with harsh music. The movement is angry, violent, sexual, innocence has been lost. It’s frenzied and unsettling.

Act III–Paradise is almost religious in its focus. This seems the most sophisticated of the three, as if the characters have gone through innocence to violence and found peace in experience and God.

Comment. As dance is not my forte, I can’t/won’t comment on the specifics of Marie Chouinard’s choreography or dance creations, but her images are vivid and beautifully focused. And with video we can see what part of the triptych we are focused on in the choreography. It’s a bracing piece of theatre.

I think it’s important to expose oneself to other kinds of art and Chouinard’s work is some of the best.

Canadian Stage Presents:

Opened: April 19, 2017.
Saw it: April 20, 2017.
Closes: April 23, 2017.
Running Time: 75 minutes.

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1 Anna Camara May 3, 2017 at 7:19 am

May I share this on the Hamilton Fringe Festival FB page?