I was lucky enough to catch Eaux-les-Bains at the Pont d’Eau in Ostwald on Friday night. As I have previously mentioned this is a comedy show directed by Jean-Luc Falbraird, creator and artistic director of the Kafteur comedy club in Strasbourg.
Happily for us foreigners Eaux-les-Bains is ‘sans parole’; meaning it’s a wordless or, if you prefer, ‘mime’ production. So if you’re an Anglophone this is one of the few chances you’ll get to see some live French comedy in Strasbourg/Alsace – and actually understand what’s going on 100% of the time!
In reality the cast are far from silent throughout the production, but it is true to say that if your comprehension of French is nil, then this won’t spoil your understanding (nor enjoyment) of the show.
So what’s it all about? Essentially the show is a montage of comic sketches set in a health resort. Though, unlike a sketch show, there is a strong through-line of well formed characters and plot-moments to tie it altogether.
The ingenious set enables the cast to seamlessly transform the stage into a row of changing cubicles one moment, then into a massage parlour, a sauna room or even a swimming pool the next. Making the task of switching scenes a breeze while cleverly providing the show with a variety of environments in which to stage each sketch.
In terms of the actual sketches themselves, if you’ve ever been to a health resort, spa or baths, you’ll know what to expect. That awkward moment in the changing cubicle, a steamy encounter in the sauna, a painful experience in the massage parlour, the ill-fitting bathing suit … and of course water, lots of water. In short it’s classic well-observed character-comedy with the occasional, bring the house down, slap-stick moment.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, and judging by the three curtain calls demanded by the audience at the end of the show – I clearly was not the only one.
There are five more performances planned in Alsace before the end of April (Bischwiller, Saulxures, Saverne, Wissembourg, Vendenheim) then the company depart for a two week stretch at the Avignon Fringe Festival (otherwise known as Avignon Off). You can purchase tickets for the Vendenheim performance from FNAC.