Frédérick Gravel’s solo show “Fear and Greed” takes the form of an abstract, anarchist dance piece interspersed with text, live rock music, beer, and silence. The piece rings with existential angst in the context of the world’s current events and seemingly insurmountable issues. Gravel entertains the temptation of abandoning all sense of collective responsibility, of being seduced and lulled to sleep by music, but also demonstrates the undeniable human tendency to care.
Gravel explores this through a nuanced relationship with music. Music is at once a means to communicate and to deafen, to express reality and to escape it. The abandon of dancing to pounding drums, the harmony of joining in an ensemble of musicians, the anarchy of a rockstar committed to stirring people up, are all facets of music explored by the artist. His play between silence and sound also pushes the audience to contemplate the role of music in the piece.
His initial movements are swift and simple, with the care of someone just learning to walk. He moves from one point to another in no efficient manner, like a shopping cart with a broken wheel that wants to go in circles. A guitar brings him to standing. He searches for how to balance it on his body. He struggles in the humorous awkwardness of trying to get comfortable, with impeccably precise restraint and comic timing.
He abruptly sings a few lines while strumming his guitar, before placing a radio next to the microphone, as if letting whatever music exists out there be his voice. He later dances to a uplifting rock on a stripped down stage, the way someone might dance in their bedroom to release their existential anxiety. When he joins his guitar playing to the harmonies of the band behind him, Gravel takes his place in something bigger than himself, while the audience is seduced by the live music.
Intermittently, Gravel has conversations—perhaps with himself, his inner therapist, his alter ego, or some imaginary person—about his anxieties and what will make him feel better. His journey throughout the show can be described as a struggle to reconcile the personal with the collective. He wonders, “Who would want to share my suffering? Why would I want to share someone else’s suffering?” [paraphrased]. His movement reflects the discomfort of sitting with unsolvable problems, express the unutterable emotion of hate, and the fight to simply exist.
Sitting as a lonely busker under a street lamp, he sings, “There’s no one else / It’s just us / There’s nowhere else far from here / There’s one room.” His lyrics shed us and himself of all responsibility for the problems outside the theatre—an empty promise, of course.
Gravel gradually builds to a joyfully, playfully, angsty anarchist dance in which he seems to cut through heavy cobwebs around him that keep multiplying, as if trying to rid himself of all ties to the rest of humanity. He sweats with the urgency of his message: “Stop trying. Buy plastic. Show that you’re afraid” [paraphrased].
Later, he sings, “The stars don’t care, but I do,” a battle cry acknowledging the human desire for interconnectedness, self-preservation, and moral justice, even in the face of the void and our own existential insignificance. Finally, he returns to music for comfort: “Sing me to sleep so I can sleep / and dream / so I can feel something else than fear and greed.
Through it all, Alexandre Pilon-Guay’s lighting design dramatically transforms the stage from one moment to the next. He makes the band appear and disappear, and seems to make Gravel float in a cloud of smoke. His precision is just as captivating as Gravel’s.
For a thought-provoking and aesthetically on-point show that will make you chuckle with delight and rock out to your own existential crisis, check out “Fear and Greed.”
The 13th Annual Festival TransAmériques presents
FEAR AND GREED
June 1 + 4 at 8pm | June 2 at 3pm
Duration: 1 h 15 min
1345, Avenue Lalonde
514 844 3822 / 1 866 984 3822
Driven by her passion for contemporary art and writing, Cardineau pens reviews, interviews, and analyses informed by her own multidisciplinary practice. She formerly held the positions of Head Writer and Online Editor for Yiara Magazine, a feminist art and art history publication. She is excited about what this year’s Fringe Festival has to offer, especially in the context of theatre and politics today.
Find out more about Cardineau’s recent projects and upcoming exhibitions/productions at cardineauceline.myportfolio.com