Theatre review: Jeu Jeu la Foille: Frontal Lobotomy

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“Lean back,” invites Jeu Jeu la Foille (aka Vicky Hancock) as she eases us into her show.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Laughing Horse @ Southside Social (Venue 246)

“Relax. These brain-dogs always find their way home.” It’s an evocative image, hinting at the poetic and neurological themes to come, and also good advice for a dreamlike hour in which a distinctive sensibility is clearly at work even if the connections between its various elements aren’t always clear.

La Foille is an irreverent regular on the UK burlesque scene and Frontal Lobotomy, her first solo show, is a departure, not least for its focus on verbal rather than physical dexterity. Taking its cue from a zinger Tom Waits once made on a talk show (“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy”), it explores both Waits’s own offbeat thoughtworld and the history of the lobotomy procedure. Intended to alleviate anxiety and trauma, the process could also disinhibit physical appetites and short-circuit creativity.

There’s plenty of the latter on show here, from puppetry and mime to fables and beat poetry. The poetic work is perhaps the strongest – clever, controlled, accessible yet fantastical – and the whole thing is held together by La Foille’s relaxed and assured stage presence.

Until 21 August. Today 8:45pm.

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