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CHANSONS, LUMIERE ET FLEURS (article first published : 2000-07-6)

For sheer professionalism on the Standard Bank National Arts Festival, not to mention innovation, honesty and expertise, you can't beat Chansons, Lumiere et Fleurs. Many shows which have been produced with less care and not enough attention to detail are being upstaged by a charming hour-long show in the tiny Moot Room in the grounds of the Law School.

Running not once but twice a day for the full festival period, Chansons, Lumiere et Fleurs is directed by Jean Page and features herself, May Bennett, Eve MacKay and Anne Timm. Actresses they may not be but consummate floral artists they certainly are, performing their delightful show with panache and gentle tongue-in-cheek humour.

During the programme, they produce 16 pieces - some fairly substantial which have been semi-prepared and simply require the final touches to finish them off. Others are started from scratch and created as the audiences watches, often in a round-about way so that the final effect becomes a welcome surprise.

The four mostly work to music but have included two poems by Douglas Livingstone - Lake Morning in Autumn which features a stork made from grasses by a still pool of water and plants and A Flower for the Night where white lilies in black bamboo pots are ceremoniously surrounded by candles.

There are fun pieces such as Bus Stop in which flowers adorn umbrellas and gumboots; the Loch Ness Monster with ferocious smoke coming from its nostrils (Flower of Scotland), and huge busbies covered in oak leaves (Pomp and Circumstance). There is a four-tiered work with a "flowing river" (River Dance); an impressive palm sheath boat (The Last Farewell) and the exquisite Special Star made from long golden and pale green leaves.

Husbands - all good handymen, fortunately - are prevailed on to produce ever-more challenging creations such as bases, pulleys or supports. Jean Page is even contemplating taking up welding herself! If you haven't seen this show don't miss it. And put it on your priority list for next year. They'll be back - with even more innovative ideas!




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