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Review: The Veil (Le Foulard)

Image: The Pleasance

As the performer sidles into the space and negotiates her way to the stage under the cover of a big, dark veil - nervous laughter erupts from the audience. The veil is partly removed and we are introduced to this artist - part of an apparent artistic collective formed of just herself.

The character here is pretentious, artsy and patronising. As a well-formed sketch this would have been funny, as it sat as a main basis for the show it was just awkward.

Nervous laughter was all we were to enjoy. After this character came the wide-eyed enthusiast for joy and beauty, making eye contact with each of us in the audience. Oh and one of the characters also straddled a man in the audience after feeling a connection. It didn't go down well.

This seemed to be a satire on self-indulgent performance art - yet it seemed to be falling into the trap of what it was parodying. While there was no big meaning I also didn't find it enjoyable to watch.

I felt like I got the joke but just didn't find it funny. As the hour continued and the flitting between personas became more erratic, and the text more "random" (including a spoken dramatisation of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive), I realised that surprisingly, given the flitting, this all felt very one-note.

One enjoyable departure was the inclusion of the singing of a French song, which was actually lovely to listen to. With each line enthusiastically translated back into English it did stunt the pace, whereas to let this moment hang could have proved powerful. The continuous excited glint in the eye of this character would have been sufficient in place of the translations.

There's no doubt that Lucy is an incredibly skilled performer. She filled the space with her presence and strong vocals and physicality - so it was frustrating to not engage with the material.

The show has received countless positive reviews and I've heard lots of people gushing about it - so maybe it's something people should see for themselves. Sadly for me it was my disappointment of the Fringe - and the one time I found myself checking the time and willing it to speed up.

Anyway, that's part of the joy of the Fringe: you try different things and not everything will be for you. I always feel nervous about posting negative reviews, but in this case I wanted to share this opinion but let me know what you thought - I'm curious as to other perspectives on this one.

The Veil (Le Foulade) plays at the Pleasance Dome at 4.20pm until 26 August.