Emmanuelle/Emmanuelle plays with the past and the present in its non-linear, episodic narrative. It translates the childhood memoirs of Emmanuelle Guattari and the diverse writings of her father Felix Guattari into a meditative, multimedia duet on temporality, memory and loss.
There is a power per se in Emmanuelle’s intensely lyrical prose, which is acutely appreciated and realised by all involved in the show. But the words are intriguingly pre-recorded, always spoken through the speakers; and this distance, an especial elusiveness, juxtaposes – and yet, somewhat ironically, also fits – with the tangible immediacy of the two performers before us, their grounded physicality and intimacy. For a show that so focuses on entangled and overlapping realities, and incorporates so many different materials and mediums of performance, it is remarkable how well everything seems to not just fit together, but also feed into each other. The overhead projector, for example, is first used to cast delicate shadows when Emmanuelle talks of her childhood ‘in the world of the river’ (like a cut-out fairy-tale book); and it is then finally used to show a feedback reel of various snippets of the performance, which cycles back to the idea of bringing the past into the present.
Emmanuelle/Emmanuelle is ambitious, impressive and expressive. Truthfully, there are moments when I feel like it speaks a language that I am not all that familiar with, let alone fluent in; but even in those moments, it is still always able to communicate with and move me. Later, when I return to those moments, I often find that they make a lot more sense than I may have initially thought.