Manipulations, objects, marionettes, shadows, illusion: Nicole Mossoux has long explored these falsely solitary universes. Through the discovery of this new opus, we are reminded of “Kefar Nahum”, of the wonderful multiple monologue “Twin Houses”, “Light”, as well as “Gradiva” or even “Katafalk” and “Juste ciel”, which represented the start of the Compagnie Mossoux-Bonté thirty years ago.
The body and its appendices, its growths like strange, sometimes disturbing, companions, inhabit these worlds. They can be found in “Whispers” - created last October at the Théâtre de la Balsamine - with the participation of Colette Huchard for costumes and Johan Daenen as set designer.
While music has always left sinuous contours in Mossoux-Bonté’s performances, the sound here takes on a particular texture, with sound effects and sound objects by Mikha Wajnrych, and microphony and live music by Thomas Turine.
Dance of recollections
The lone woman who appears on the stage is perhaps not alone. Around her, there is rumbling and breathing, whispering and clinking, creaking and muttering.
The woman herself - whose clothing and the lights (by Patrick Bonté) resemble a Vermeer character - proves to be multifaceted. Children and ancestors, will-o'-the-wisp and ghosts, the living vestal of wandering spirits.
Dance, here, is a distant cross-reference to ballet. A hybrid, filled with recollections, it dramatizes mystery and absorbs turbulent waters. As a lace maker with expressive hands, whose face is a mix of grace and astonishment, Nicole Mossoux summons the dark forces that the whispers are hiding.
There is magic, a disturbing joy, a fascinating severity, a vibrant strangeness in this plural solo. Thus, “Whispers” is tirelessly in keeping with the beautiful space-time of a company tuned in to the secret.
Marie Baudet, La Libre / August 2016
Nicole Mossoux created her latest solo in Paris, opening the International Biennale of Marionettes.
Whispers are internal murmurings transmitted by phantoms that can inhabit us without warning. Certain come from very far away. They move across the subconscious, always waiting to ambush, in search of a breath of air. When we call them to the stage, when they find an unguarded opening, they produce strange squeaky whistles, words or movements that seem to come from nowhere. The murmuring we hear is strangely grotesque.
This is what Nicole and her long time acolyte Patrick Bonté offer us here. Yet Mossoux, bolstered by Mikha Wajnrych’s sound-objects, goes further still into her haunted Flemish character. Internal voices take the shape of objects, of clothing, even parts of her own body that escape all attempts to control them. Like her great classic Twin Houses, she manipulates in order to create the illusion of being manipulated.
Alone on stage but incarnating women from different epochs along with their obsessions, Mossoux knows how to generate wonder and stupefaction. The subconscious shivers under wigs from diverse periods, fears arise when faced with uncontrollable movements under skirts, terror when a white night gown becomes a phantom itself and horror when knitting needles become a story about abortion. Whether a statue with a white face or a model wearing sunglasses, this woman trembles. It is only when she begins to dance that she finds unity of being.
Nicole Mossoux and Patrick Bonté do not cease their dialogue with painters from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. This time it all begins with a caustic nod to the Flemish painter Jan Van Eyck. But the references also relate to their own creations - like the troubling tableau of doubling which is a very concrete reference to Twin Houses, a classic within the company repertoire. Whispers demonstrates the virtues of a prolonged research into the art of the burlesque. The corporeal murmurings that traverse the piece and its characters resonate in our heads for a long time after…
Thomas Hahn, Danser Canal Historique / May 2015
In 2008, at the first-ever Manipulate, Compagnie Mossoux-Bonte, from Belgium, were harbingers of what (we hoped) lay ahead for the festival. That earlier production, Light, was a tour-de-force of shadow-play and shape-shifting deceptions. Whispers, their current show, sees Nicole Mossoux again morphing with seemingly boneless agility from one form to another, as if her body was a conduit for all manner of homeless, wandering souls. The soundscore creaks, crunches and screeches with a nightmarish brutality, while Mossoux – with a deft twitch of her costume, a dislocation of her limbs – portrays echoes of past griefs, seductions, abuses and even Vermeer-like poised domesticity. Sometimes grotesquely unpleasant, but never less than compelling.
Mary Brennan, The Herald / January 2017