Perle is a performance inspired by a medieval poem of the same name; it tells a story of denial and loss, and of the long process of dealing with it. The storyline is very simple, but never becomes clearly articulated as such. Instead, the performance unfolds through the combination of live action and illustration.
On stage are an actor and a TV. The actor interacts with the TV to create different settings, such as the sea, the woods, or even to make a sandwich. At other times, his characters’ thoughts are shown on the TV screen as he introduces himself to the audience and ‘chats’ with us. It’s quite a difficult set up to describe and the concept undoubtedly sounds slightly peculiar, but thanks to the combination of beautiful illustration with skilled acting, it works.
The performer is highly gifted, capable of shifting the audience’s mood with a simple change of expression. He is funny and endearing as he goes about introducing himself to us. However, the subtext of depression is always present in his smile, an indication of the actor’s great subtlety of expression. To that end, he is also capable of stirring emotions of sadness and pity at times when he is delicately holding his ‘pearl’, showering it with love. The illustrations shown on the TV create a cartoon-like aesthetic that emphasises the child-like qualities of the actor, making this a performance redolent of an understated innocence. This makes the show accessible to children and adults alike. The music used during the various scenes is very appropriate and successfully enhances the atmosphere.
This performance firmly establishes its own pace and demands that you sit back, unwind, and follow it. It’s not particularly pacey in the sense that not too much happens. However, through repetition and pattern development it creates its own rhythm, one that you will either like or dislike. Personally, I found this show highly enjoyable in its difference; it made me laugh, but it also touched me.