Hatched (2003)

Hatched in Ireland

SaBooge performed Hatched the 10th-26th of April 2003 at the Cube in the Project Arts Center.


The Irish Times, Dublin, April 11, 2003

Theatre Review


Sabooge theatre's ambitious adaptation of an Angela Carter novel works superbly well on many levels. As practitioners of physical theatre based on the teachings of Jacques Lecoq, their natural milieu is buffoonery and clowning, and Carter sets her turn-of-the century tale of identity and otherness in the circus. It's potentially dense and heady, but the five actors and two musicians who make up the company authoritatively walk the fine line that must be negotiated between allegorical discourse and pratfall.

Does Fevvers really have wings? Or is it just another gag, a blag to bring in the punters, a pathetic attempt to raise herself above her shady upbringing? Is she genuine, a miracle, or a freak of nature? The trapeze artist wraps herself in a cloak of mystery but chooses to gift the journalist Jack Walser with her narrative. The journey sways between Fevvers' uneasy relationship with objectification and Walser's eventual devotion to her myth. All this, and with plenty of sight gags and clowning.

The company translates the methods of Lecoq into visual, embodied language that is absolutely germane to their story. Watching them is pure joy - not a wasted movement, not an insignificant gesture.

...this is professional, inventive and playful, a wonderful synthesis of theory and practice that is as entertaining as it is intelligent.

Sunday Independent, Dublin, April 13, 2003

The highly specific art of clowning around


PHYSICAL theatre is a difficult and very specific art; it is currently very fashionable, and a high percentage of young actors coming out of drama school want to specialise in it.

Sometimes, one admits, that is a considerable relief for audiences, since very many newly-fledged actors have no emotional range, and very little voice competence.

It's when their physical competence is as poor as everything else that the problems arise. We see far too muich undisciplined pose-striking, pattern-forming, and military square marching masquerading as physical theatre.

Frequently, even literary masterpieces are reduced to mime-shows, which is not what theatre of any kind should be about. Even Blue Raincoat, one of our two major physical companies here, have been guilty of the latter.

But when physical theatre works, it works. And it works best of all when it has its roots in the art of clowning. Clowning involves improvisation, and stories that are magical and simple, telling the tale in visuals that go straight to the heart are the ideal fodder for it.

SaBooge Theatre, based in Quebec, and run by artists from Canada, Britain, Ireland and the US, have obviously realised all this, and their improvised work Hatched at the Cube in Project, is a beautifully-realised fantasy that comes charmingly and hauntingly to life. It tells the story of 'Fevvers', a cockney girl born and abandoned in a brothel, who may be a freak of nature and may be a con-woman. Miss Feathers has wings, and in 1899 goes on tour to St. Petersburg as the major draw in Colonel Kearney's circus of wonders.

What follows is a story of love, cruelty, endurance, and humour. SaBooge paint circus life in all the possibilities of its privations and brutalities, through Buffo the drunken clown, the Strong Man who beats mercilessly his sad and submissive sex slave little partner, and Colonel Kearney who exerts his brutish droit de seigneur on the women in the company.

The denoument is both tragic and touching; but poor little Fevvers does find a here-after love with the incognito reporter whose original task was to expose her as a fraud.

This is beautiful theatre, important in its complex simplicity, presented by a company of nine (five actors plus musical and technical staff) who do not have individual programme credits, and all of whom do a superb job. One actor in particular, the woman who plays Fevvers' protector Lizzie, the clown Buffo, and the sex slave, deserves particular mention.

The Irish Examiner, Dublin, April 17, 2003

Arts Review


Project Cube

THE unusual physical theatrical techniques of the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, "red clown" performance, and the physicality of the Commedia del'Arte are brought to bear in the brilliant SaBooge Theatre's Hatched...

Hatched is a group with a truly international blend - performers and musician hail from Canada, America, Britain and Ireland.

The result of their collective experimental and cutting edge theatrical backgrounds makes Hatched a hilarious, imaginative, ingenious and lightly profound experience.

The audience is spellbound at the dexterity and mixture of performance technique while all the time amused at the wit the highly skilled and magical presentations [sic].

The plot of Hatched tells of how a newspaper reporter is assigned to demystify the phenomenon of a woman with wings, Fevvers, who has dropped into a local American city as part of a circus tour.

Cub reporter Jack Walser is your typical fresh-faced Yankee runner from the turn of the 19th century.

His editor leaves him in no douby that this Fevvers is a fake and Walser is to puncture her fiction most dramatically. Naturally, things don't quite turn out like that.

Walser is sacked and ends up touring to Russia in the same circus as Fevvers when he is inadvertently roped in by the grotesquely bellicose circus ringmaster.

Walser becomes one of the clowns, the oldest of whom is a Drambuie bottle-wielding sex fiend with the hots for Fevvers.

Since the ringmaster, the old clown and Walser are all chasing after the woman - referred to by her phlegmatic assistant as the "eighth wonder of the world" things get a bit hot under the circus ring collar.

Matters are made worse when Walser's editor publishes a piece falsely attaching Walser's byline to it alleging that Fevvers' wings are a con. Fevvers and Walser, though, get over their enmity.

More important than the story in this style of theatre, is the way in which the story is told. After the genre of Commedia del'Arte, live musicians add acoustic images to the hilarious visual gestures. Strobe lighting is used to give an old black and white movie reel feel to some scenes.

Throughout, there is so much more than your usual actorly performance because every word spoken is wrapped up in highly stylised and caricatured gesticulation.

It's almost impossible to give a sense of the fun and skill of the performances of Kayla Fell, Simon Harding, Adrienne Kapstein, Andrew McDonald(musician) and Bryan Quinn. Suffice it to say that they perfectly capture the grotesque spirit and humour of Carter's writing whilst turning all of it into a theatrical experience.

SaBooge's Hatched is brilliant, great fun and totally unmissable. It is on at 8:15pm nightly until April 26.

WOW.ie Theatre, Dublin, April 18, 2003



Physical theatre: what does that mean? In the world of Jacques LeCoq, it means that even the simplest gesture is composed of countless small, smaller, smallest gestures. It means that nothing lacks significance, so the actor must be aware at all times. No falling asleep in this kind of practice - no meaningless standing around; everything signifies something.

Irish audiences, whether they knew it or not, have been treated to LeCoqian technique through the works of Sligo-based Blue Raincoat. The company has embraced this idea of the depth of meaning in gesture, but also incorporate notions based on the work of American avant garde practitioner Anne Bogart and the SITI Company. Because of this meeting of several different minds, one could not point to them and say 'This is what LeCoq is all about', and the manner in which they choose to execute them, they have achieved a recognisable style all their own, a style that is not more LeCoq than Bogart, and vice versa.

For punters interested in seeing the teachings of the influential Frenchman used appropriately in a germane narrative context, then the work of SaBooge Theatre, currently on show in Temple Bar, is as good as it gets. Perfectly melding conventional narrative with physical rigour, their adaptation of Angela Carter's allegorical treatment of otherness and identity is given a rousing and polished production.

Cockney trapeze artiste Fevvers was born with wings. It's a beautiful metaphor that is treated with respect by the company, both poignant and playful at the same time. A woman living in turn-of-the-century London wouldn't have many options at her disposal, with the old Madonna v Whore binary in full flower. Abandoned as an infant, and raised in a brothel, her otherness doubled when it became apparent that she was growing feathery appendages. Dismissed as a gimmick by the cynical masses, Fevvers holds her miraculousness close, and protects it assiduously.

That is, until reporter Jack Walser walks into her dressing room. She entrusts him with her narrative, and both of them end up betrayed. Both in turn end up working in the same circus, on the same tour of Russia [...]

The company is, to a person, wonderful. Every characterisation was well and truly conceived, every moment chock full of inventiveness and rigour, not a wasted motion or notion in the entire seventy five minutes. The five actors are supported by two musicians and inhabit a terrific and simple design that is in turn lit to perfection. In a word: superb.

The Sunday Tribune, Dublin, April 13, 2003

TV, Radio & Theatre

Project Arts Center
WHEN just five actors step on stage to take their bows at the end of Hatched, the Project's current show, it's a genuine surprise: for the previous 80-odd minutes, they've managed to recreate an entire circus community - strong man, monkeys and all. It's an impressive feat of human agility that certainly deserves a round of applause - a bit like the tricks of the circus world in which it's set.

The people responsible for the evening's entertainment are SaBooge Theatre, an international company of actors brought together through their training at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq, a Parisian school of clowning. Irish actor Bryan Quinn (last seen in the Project in Saddled) and musician Andrew McDonald are among the tiny crew that have brought this extraordinary show to Dublin after its sucessful run in the US and Canada.

Inspired by the fairy-tale writings of Angela Carter, Hatched tells the story of a young American journalist who, in the year 1899, is sent to uncover a winged woman - who claims to have hatched out of a shell - as a fraud. What follows is a comedy of errors as the hapless Jack ends up accidentally joining the cicus, travelling to St. Petersburg, falling foul of his co-performers, and falling in love with the object of his investigation.

An incredible amount of inventiveness has gone into this show, from its gorgeous costumes to devices like the staging of certain vignettes in the manner of old-style silent movies. A visual spectacle, it's a sort of Moulin Rouge for the stage.

The musicians must also be complimented on the innovative use of sound to conjure up atmosphere: one minute we are in a busy newspaper office, typewriters clacking, and the next minute we are on a train hurtling towards Siberia. Most evocative of all, perhaps, is the circus ground at night, its eerie silence punctured only by nighttime sounds - someone pissing in a bucket, someone else enjoying a bit of slap and tickle in a nearby tent.

www.dublinks.com, Dublin, April 5, 2003

Theatre Review


Canadian theatre company SaBooge are performing their unmissable show Hatched at the Project Arts Centre until the 26th of April.

In a culture mass fed by cinema, television and computer games, some would call the role of theatre as entertainment into question. Indeed, competing with all those bright lights and loud noises may seem like an uphill struggle. As a result, many playwrights seem to have veered away from entertainment, opting instead for a theatre of frowns: a ponderous and significant, socially responsible theatre that comments on important issues.

Not so for Canadian theatre company SaBooge ("ItMooves" in French) however, whose latest production, Hatched, is running at the Project Arts Centre until the 26th of April.

As the curtain fell on the 19th century, one last marvel came into the world: Fevvers, an impossible woman. Born with wings, Fevvers was abandoned on the steps of a brothel shortly after hatching. Then one day Lizzie, the whore who took her in and brought her up, had an idea: if Fevvers has wings, then perhaps she can fly. So Fevvers unfurled her wings to became London's most praised and courted trapeze artist, dubbed by Lizzie "the Eighth Wonder of the World".

But not everyone is pleased with the sudden rise to fame of this winged diva, so Jack Walser, crack obituary-writer with the Birmingham Bugle, is given his big break: he is dispatched to dig up the dirt on Miss Fevvers, whose feathery wings must surely be a hoax.

And thus begins the fable, Hatched.

The SaBooge Theatre company was formed in 1999, one hundred years after the events of Fevvers' story, by a group of students at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. The LeCoq school specializes in physical acting, expression through gesture and movement. Informed by mime, Commedia dell'Arte, and the poetic elegance of the clown, the troupe has created an incredibly rich and intense theatre, new, fresh, vigorous; full of energy and life.

In staging Hatched, the troupe have used every aspect of stagecraft at their disposal with an inspiring inventiveness, creative passion and playful simplicity. This is pure theatrical alchemy, turning frowns to mirth.

Entertainment Ireland.ie, Dublin, April 2003


The place is London, the year is 1899, and the times are strange. When a prostitute discovers a woman with wings, a journalist is determined to expose their hoax. What ensues is a superb play set around four scenes - a tiny London dressing room, a touring circus in St. Petersburg, a Russian locomotive and the desolate planes of Siberia. Based on the writing's of the late and great Angela Carter, this is an often-riotous blend of comedy and confusion. Sabooge's fabulous production of Hatched is currently running in the Cube at Project. Don't miss this rare chance to catch a fantastically talented international ensemble of award winning poets, playwrights, actors, musicians and designers as they bring real theatrical magic to life on the stage at Project.