Showing as part of Mimetic Festival 2014 (17 – 29 November 2014)
In reviewing ‘Marion Deprez Is Gorgeous’ there is a rather large elephant in the room. Can one seriously review the show without addressing the matter of the title? It has been written as a preposition rather than a question – which is a bold gesture and leaves no rooms for dissenting opinion – and the result is that Ms Deprez’ act must rest on the implicit assumption that she is, by objective measures, ‘gorgeous’.
The photos that accompany this review mean readers can form their own judgement about Ms Deprez’s looks whilst this reviewer will cloak his opinions behind the very British trait of discretion (which seems entirely appropriate given the extended Gallic riffs that undercut the performance) and look to review the show on its own merits.
The show is an examination of our stereotypical ideas of beauty – we have swans, butterflies and princesses – and how far someone can get on looks rather than talent. The act can appear that it is about to spiral into disaster and we are constantly assured by Ms Deprez that she isn’t actually funny, which – unsurprisingly – doesn’t do much to reassure those in the audience of a comedy show.
This is a high-risk manoeuvre and can lead to an increasingly antagonistic relationship between performer and audience. However it is a seam that has been mined for great riches by comics as varied as Tommy Cooper (Deprez’ acknowledged idol) and Stewart Lee. There is clearly plenty of comic potential to be had from working the unease that people feel when they are not entirely sure whether a show is going off the rails.
However it is important to understand this work in the context of clowning (although I suspect that there is a closer relationship to the Italian buffo and the figures from comic operas than traditional British notions of the clown) and that the comedy derives from pushing against the expectations of the audience