Little Lady marks Sandrine Lafond’s first show in Victoria — no small feat when you consider that Nevada-based Lafond has consorted with Celine Dion and contorted with Cirque du Soleil prior to touring her solo show around Fringe festivals.
Lafond’s acrobatic bona fides might make you think that Little Lady is full of grand movement. But the little lady that Lafond embodies for 45 minutes spends much of the show overcoming the limitations of an old body, and aside from the odd high kick or insertion of toes in mouth, Lafond sticks to a more nuanced, narrative physicality. She never speaks — only gawks, blinks, squeals and trills as she performs the same tasks over and over again with Mr. Bean-like delight (she even dotes upon her teddy bear, just as he does).
Oversized glasses, an undersized cane and wobbly legs impede the little lady’s daily routine. Still, her delight in sticking her tongue out at her audience and spritzing her apartment (and herself) with water hints at the child within her. As the play progresses, the little lady undergoes painful, red-lit transformations every time she goes to sleep, shedding her saggy bits and strapping on enormous, perky prosthetic breasts and buttocks. Initially she revels in her newfound youth, playing the coquette and balancing a bowl on her bosom, but later she reviles the token trappings of womanhood in favour an even younger, more innocent version of herself.
Lafond seems to be trying to make a statement about body image and female identity with this Benjamin Button-esque reversed aging process. Yet the show is too sweet to drive the message — whatever it might be — home. What’s not to love about a fur stole-wearing, red candy-chewing lady who’s hopeless at knitting and parades around in a coral-hued minidress and matching headscarf a la Edie Beale from Grey Gardens? Why would the audience worry about her, considering her daily trek around her home — a well-worn track from water bowl to TV to oven to dinner table — scarcely changes even as her body transforms?
If you want diverting physical theatre replete with accordion accompaniment and the wide-eyed wonder of a clown-like heroine, this show is for you. If you’re looking for a clear, erudite message, search elsewhere for your Fringe fare.
Little Lady at the Victoria Fringe Festival
VCM Wood Hall (900 Johnson St.)
Thursday, Aug. 30 @ 7:45 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 31 @ 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 1 @ 2:15 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 2 @ 8 p.m.
$11 (plus $5 Fringe Visa button)