Reality shows are flourishing and haven’t failed to draw viewers. Considering this subject is “Opinion Public", a young company of artists which has been running for only five years and already has developed its own strong identity.
A "follower" is a fan, an admirer or, taking this one step further, a "disciple"... Mr. Toulemonde (Mr. Everybody) caught up in a TV game named "Mr. Follower" seems to be bordering on this last definition as he engages and succumbs to the rules of the game.
Addicted to reality TV, he sees promises materialize before him, emerging from anonymity and a “makeover". He becomes a new hero, the "New star", and his taste of fame is not always easy to get to grips with. All aspects of his life are ruled by the camera including love and friendships. But gradually the real way the system works becomes apparent and we see him becoming disillusioned and losing control over his life ... While the general tone is an amusing critique full of imagination the humour tinged with cynicism then turns more caustic.
This production which is hard to label, comes from a team with a very close relationship. Five actor-dancers and three musicians tell the story through different sequences, using several techniques and technologies (with a lot of video and camera work, of course) and in a range of styles including musical, that all perfectly flow together. This is also true of the set design.
The imaginative staging from Etienne Béchard who also performs as a dancer, makes the different sequences flow beautifully. And the actor-dancers’ flexibility (in every sense). Johann Clapson, Sidonie Fossé, Victor Launay and Arthur Louarti also performing mime and amazing acrobatics.
All the dancers attended Béjart (among other training). They met there and put their project together. At the same time, they became great friends and built a strong bond between them. And this is why they are able to create totally new choreography together.
As for the musicians, Livio Luzzi, Romain Verwilghen and Edouard Cabuy form the group "Paper Ship". They also express their own style while slotting in perfectly to create the general atmosphere of a TV show.
The show gets the audience involved. The smooth-talking presenter, not failing to call out for applause and canned laughter, seems to be running the game and influencing the crowd, perhaps a rather "sentimental crowd", but overall one that does what it’s told ...
Just over a year ago, we introduced you to a breathtaking young contemporary dance troupe who had taken up residence in our capital; the dance company, Opinion Public. We've loved its original productions that skilfully mix different dance genres together. This troupe is completely spellbinding in terms of artistic prowess that only they can achieve.
Therefore, it was with a high level of enthusiasm that we headed over to the Marni Theatre to see their new production called Mr. Follower. Not expecting to be surprised this time but we were hoping for a wonderful show. And it was well worth the wait.
Mr.Follower tells the story of a bit of a nobody who is an avid fan of a reality TV show where, by chance he becomes the central character. But his undue fame makes him vulnerable and unstable. Little by little his character takes leave of himself to make way for a world full of visible and invisible manipulation over which he has no control.
Without mincing our words, Mr. Follower is a huge visual, sound and artistic success. As usual, we can confirm that the dancers’ display the greatest level of skill in terms of their profressionalism and giving a precise performance. In addition, their willingness to hijack contemporary dance and link it up with circus and theatre, makes Opinion Public a pioneering force (and a laboratory) for dance of the future. This hybrid style is engaging and accessible to everyone.
On this basis, the story reveals something of much greater importance. In fact, Mr. Follower is scripted so that the viewer lives through the story at the same time as the main character. The narrative slowly becomes more sombre as the minutes pass. Scenes that had been full of smiles become more and more tense. Sparkling eyes fade and the applause falls silent. No doubt, Mr. Follower becomes a metaphor of society and the world of entertainment full of splendour and tragedy.
The gamble pays off, the message is delivered, the audience is stunned, both struck and astonished by such an abrupt ending that concludes a series of dramatic and at times, tragic little scenes. Mr. Follower has blown the show away along with the fear.