One blank stage space, one exceedingly talented woman dressed all in black, one large black veil: apparently these are the only ingredients you need for an hour of superb entertainment. ‘You are about to receive something of a very, very high quality’, announces The Artist (Lucy Hopkins) and that is exactly what you get in The Veil (Le Foulard); a comic performance of captivatingly high quality.
Hopkins’ performance of the pretentious Artist and the characters she plays is filled with excellent comic timing and subtlety. Nothing is superfluous in this production; everything is in its perfect place to achieve a perfect result. Elegant physicality, stunning employment of language, excellent acting, highly amusing audience interaction and flawless character changes with just a flick of the veil make this piece simple, well-designed hilarity. The patronising, engaging and surprisingly charming Artist pleasantly and indirectly joins in with the same mocking chorus of witty intelligence with which Oscar Wilde once said that ‘all art is quite useless’.
Utilising singing, acting and movement, all of which Hopkins is exceedingly good at, she is not afraid to use pauses and understated darting glances to great effect. Moving through a variety of characters, each as entertaining as the one before, Hopkins barely allows you a moment for your sides to rest from splitting. This performance is not only well-executed but the content is inspired and unique, hugely inventive and breathlessly good fun. In this piece the physical flexibility of Jim Carey meets the facial elasticity of Mr Bean, topped off with the superiority of comic characterisation that Julie Walters and Robin Williams deliver. A woman flailing about onstage with a veil has never been so brilliant. Never has absurdity been carried out with such poise and unassuming genius. Make sure you do not miss this.