4:48pm Monday 18th May 2009
By Nione Meakin
Wrapped in red as if in her life blood, Gael Le Cornec presented a spirited, raw and uncompromising picture of Frida Kahlo – the Mexican artist who “gave birth to herself”.
Kahlo’s paintings were her autobiography but this one-woman tour de force captured something of the real, live woman behind them - her passions, her politics, her sense of humour.
Kahlo was almost entirely crippled by a gruesome tram car accident when she was a teenager, an incident as cataclysmic in her life as her marriage to Diego Rivera.
Le Cornec depicted a woman in almost constant pain, whose awareness of death’s proximity seemed to fire the intensity with which she lived.
The audience became the ghosts of Kahlo’s past – entrusted to take care of the gaudy Day Of The Dead skulls that represented Trotsky, Andre Breton, Nelson Rockefeller and, of course, Kahlo’s beloved Diego – as she relived her innermost emotions.
Likening herself to a pinata, colourful on the outside but fragile within, Le Cornec captured with heartbreaking candour Kahlo’s bravery – chin tilted up in defiance of the odds stacked against her – and her vulnerability.
The imagery of a woman cradling and babying the useless leg that served as reminder of the accident that left her infertile was haunting.
What shone through most brightly was Kahlo’s respect for life.
As Le Cornec frantically wound yellow ribbon around the precious clutter on stage, it was as if she was trying to bind herself to her world, anchor herself against the rising tide that threatened to carry her off.
This was an astounding piece of theatre that, like all true art, transcended the boundaries of its subject.
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