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Though billed as a sequel to his epic The Dragons’ Trilogy, this smaller scale, more intimate work from Quebecois auteur Robert Lepage’s stands, very satisfyingly, alone.

The Blue Dragon

Though billed as a sequel to his epic The Dragons’ Trilogy, this smaller scale, more intimate work from Quebecois auteur Robert Lepage’s stands, very satisfyingly, alone.

Two decades on, the character of Canadian artist Pierre Lamontagne (played by Lepage) is fifty years old, no longer producing art himself, but running a gallery in Shanghai and in a relationship with a younger Chinese conceptual artist whom he is also promoting.

His home is under threat from property developers and his old flame (co-writer Marie Michaud’s advertising executive Claire, who’s far too fond of the bottle) is passing through on her way, she hopes, to adopt a Chinese baby.

From a seemingly simple scenario, Lepage conjures layers of ambiguity and meaning, the still silences as eloquent as words, and the imagery, as always with this inspired director, touched with magic. The swirling sleeves of an Oriental dancer scatter flurries of digitized snow.

With cinematic fluency, projections and sliding screens transform Pierre’s two storey apartment into an airport, a train station, or the streets of the city where a sightseeing bicycle ride is echoed by his memory of a first date with Tai Wei Foo’s Xiao Ling. But this three-hander (performed in English, French and Mandarin with surtitles) is not only a visual feast.

It suggests the compromises, the resignation and the despair of getting older, the changing nature of the East as it succumbs, in part, to the influence of the West, the clash of cultures, of the old and the new, in a gently beguiling piece which, teasingly, offers no finite solutions.

4/5

Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
020 7638 8891
Tube: Barbican
barbican.org.uk
Until 26th February
£16.00 - £50.00

- Louise Kingsley


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