Under a blanket, three figures stir. Very slowly, but strangely compellingly, their forms shift: the bodies twist comically, then balance precariously and slide onto the floor. Two men in red noses catch each other’s eyes across the squirming mass. And tentatively – though with growing warmth – the audience begins to laugh.
Comme Il Faut has a varied cast, including three artists with learning disabilities; and while it’s pointless to try to ignore that fact, it never dominates the performance. The movements in that opening vignette are delightfully expressive, while the clowning is quirky and humorous. It’s apparent that the abler cast members are assisting the others – but that's a comment you could make about any ensemble.
As time moves on and the audience learns it’s in safe hands, the performers allow surrealism and physical humour to come to the fore. In due course, they even take a trip into outer space. And it’s all accompanied by an offbeat soundscape of scrapes, squeaks and rattles, delivered by the one-man percussion section to the side; watching how the noises are created is an entertainment in itself.
Perhaps understandably, there are some weaker sections, including one lengthy follow-the-leader movement piece which feels a little too much like a drama class. Lest anyone think I’m being too demanding here, let me note that it’s only disappointing in relation to the scenes which surround it: indeed, one of the freest-flowing and most quietly elegant sections came when the artists with learning disabilities had sole use of the stage.
Comme Il Faut is there to be enjoyed, and it's folly to try to extract too strident a message from it. But there is something here to learn, or to be reminded of: that difficulties experienced in one area of life don't mean you can't perform with style in another. Cleverly built to display the best of its whole cast’s talents, Comme Il Faut is varied, inclusive, and most of all, fun.