Frida Kahlo: Viva La Vida
London, Edinburgh Festival, Oxford Festival, Brighton Festival, Los Angeles Festival 2008 -2011
Number one of the top 10 shows not to be missed - Fringe Review
" Gael Le cornec is one of the rising stars to keep your eye on this year" - The Stage
ON STAGE SCOTLAND
WINNER OF an Argus Angel Award at the Brighton Theatre Festival FOR ARTISTIC EXCELLENCE.
Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida
If you are aware of Frida Kahlo, or indeed if you are not, this intense flux of near perfect script, production and acting is a must for you. Brilliantly acted by Gael le Cornec, this one-woman play goes through the mill of emotions that was the life of South America's most famous woman artist, encompassing the loves, beliefs and weaknesses that transferred themselves into her works.
Reproductions of two of her paintings stand with Kahlo on the stage throughout, revealed and commented on as her life history unfolds. It's a brilliant show - do go and see it. I promise that you will leave the theatre better informed and deeply moved, as well as hugely impressed by the sheer emotional range of this succinct yet highly charged performance.
Simon McKeown, 20/05/09
Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida,
Wed 8th - Sat 11th April, 8pm
I don’t think there is anything I can add to the plaudits that Gael Le Cornec’s performance in Frida Kahlo: Viva La Vida has already received. This one-woman show, which lasts an hour, is a whirlwind snapshot of Kahlo’s life, which reveals her as a tormented, talented and generous soul with a great love of life – despite being in constant pain.
Kahlo never had it easy. She contracted polio as a child and was taunted for her disability. Worse was to come – she was badly injured as a teenager in a road accident and her abdomen was ruptured. The injury left her in constant pain, something she often focused on in her paintings.
Kahlo twice married fellow Mexican Diego Rivera, a well-established muralist twenty years her senior. The two had a volatile relationship; Kahlo was often referred to simply as Rivera’s wife and was not recognized as a great artist in her own right until after her death in 1954. Diego was violent and often unfaithful, but the two seemed unable to live without each other and they remarried within months of their divorce.
Le Cornec’s performance touches on all of these areas as she tells us (between gulps of Tequila) that she has had two accidents in her life, the first being the road accident, the second being her marriage to Rivera. She goes on to guide the audience through her painful journey (which included Diego’s infidelity with Kahlo’s sister, several miscarriages and abortions as well as numerous operations), without any sign of self-pity, just a terrible sense of loss for the man she could never really call her own, and the babies she longed for but never had.
It is a spellbinding performance that seems to be over all too soon – although I do wonder how a different actor would manage in the role, Le Cornec is Kahlo, I cannot imagine anyone else being as brilliant.
One word of warning, the performance includes a certain amount of audience participation – so if that is not your thing, avoid sitting on the first couple of rows.
FRIDA KAHLO: VIVA LA VIDA
A wonderful play but one which relies too heavily on the performance of Gael Le Cornec
Eccentric, tormented and gifted, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is a playwright's dream. This one-woman play, written by Humberto Robles is an attempt to produce a theatrical portrait of "the woman who gave birth to herself."
In Viva La Vidaor "Long Live Life," Frida Kahlo, played beautifully by Gael le Cornec tells us of the two accidents which shaped her life. The first happened when she was 18: the bus she was riding on collided with a trolley car causing an iron handrail to pierce her abdomen and her uterus. This left Kahlo with horrific injuries and seriously damaged her reproductive ability. The second accident she names simply as her husband – famous artist Diego Rivera.
Viva La Vida is far from a linear biography of Kahlo's life, it is a monologue interrupted by ramblings, eccentric dramatics and moments of utter silence, giving a delightful feeling of spontaneity to the proceedings. If the script deserves credit, its merits are only heightened by le Cornec. She is truly outstanding as Kahlo, beautifully capturing the passion, torment and sexuality of a woman plagued by self-doubt, pain and, ultimately, talent.Frida Kahlo: Viva La Vidais a fascinating and compelling play, the success of which lies, a little too heavily, on a brilliant individual performance.
Written by Liz Rawlings
ArguablyLatin America's most famous female artist Frida Kahlo is fascinating subject matter. Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida, Humberto Robles' award winning play brings her to life in full technicolour glory. Gael Le Cornec fully embodies and embraces Frida in this one woman whirlwind of a production, which is not only a unique take on Frida's life, but an intimate exploration of her relationship with long time lover and fellow artist Diego Rivera.Frida Kahlo: Viva La Vida is one of those unique one-woman showsthat despite the tragedy of Frida's life, the audience leaves smiling.Le Cornec brings a tiny snapshot of this brilliant artist's story to life and leaves us craving more.For art and theatre lovers alike this is a must see at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe!
ArguablyLatin America's most famous female artist Frida Kahlo is fascinating subject matter. Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida, Huberto Robles' award winning play brings her to life in full technicolour glory.Gael Le Cornec fully embodies and embraces Frida in this one woman whirlwind of a production,which is not only a unique take on Frida's life, but an intimate exploration of her relationship with long time lover and fellow artist Diego Rivera. The set that begins shrouded in white sheets, like a blank canvas, only to reveal itself to the audience bit by bit as Le Cornec maps out Frida's life, similar to the way Frida's paintings take shape for her viewers, new discoveries every time you look.
For those who don't know anything of Frida Kahlo, Viva La Vida gives a whirlwind snapshot of her life, told with humour and plenty of tequila shots by Le Cornec. Kahlo's life was fraught with trauma, near fatal accidents, a number of abortions/miscarriages and her troubled yet beautiful relationship with fellow artist Rivera. Her art is largely self-portraits, which see her reflecting herself in her various states of trauma, "painting her own reality" using fairly surrealist imagery. Robles' Frida says it like it is. Her art she says "comes from [her] guts. [She] doesn't paint dreams" We see the men in Frida's life represented by male audience members pin pointed by Le Cornec, and also by the skulls she collects of varying shapes, sizes and colours. If you are knowledgeable about Kahlo, Le Cornec provides a humorous, often dark and always colourful take on her personality. She gives the audience an insight into the world of a passionate, vibrant woman, who fought against all odds, her disabilities and bad fortune to be seen as strong, independent and unique.
Le Cornec breaks down the fourth wall to thoroughly engage and involve her audience on Frida's journey . One man, to his great delight is pulled up on s tage for a slow dance, and in another random moment audience members are clambered over by Le Cornec so she can sit on one gentleman's lap whom she immediately christens Diego. DirectorLuis Benkard has done a superb job with the staging of this piece, using every available inch of space to create Frida's world.
Designer Sophie Mosberger's set is bright, expressive and higgledy piggeldy in the nicest sense of the word. A pair of overalls hangs stage right and a dress similarly stage left. The clothes representing Frida and her lover twist and turn as the story unfolds, almost appearing alive like the people they represent. The table is littered with fruit, colourful memorabilia, and the necessary tequila bottle, which is swigged from regularly and even offered to the audience. The battered wheelchair stands to the side, a horrific reminder of Frida's disabilities following her tragic accident as a young woman, an accident that lead her to painting. Two of her paintings are revealed in the show, remarkably similar to the originals and highlighting and mirroring references in the play.
Frida Kahlo: Viva La Vida is one of those unique one-woman shows that despite the tragedy of Frida's life, the audience leaves smiling . It is easy for a one-person show to get bogged down in content about the life of the subject matter and be essentially 'dumbed' down, or cropped for an audience. YetLe Cornec manages to tell Frida's autobiography story without making it seem in any way like Frida Kahlo for dummies. Instead she brings a tiny snapshot of this fascinating artist's story to life and leaves us craving more. Le Cornec received a well-deserved rousing and extended applause for her epic performance as Kahlo.For art and theatre lovers alike this is a must see at theEdinburghFestival Fringe!
Reviewed by Skye Crawford 13th of July
THE LIST MAGAZINE
FRIDA KAHLO VIVA LA VIDA
A poised yet gutsy one-woman performance from the talented Gael Le Cornec offers a moving insight into the vibrant life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Avoiding sentimentality, Le Cornec tenderly portrays a woman struggling with physical pain and a broken marriage, who remains obsessively in love with life. A colourful execution, set and script make for an immediate and engaging re-telling of this oft-told tale. Recommended.
THE LAST DAYS OF GILDA
By Rodrigo de Roure
Arcola Theatre, London January 2009
Review by Philip Fisher (2009)
It's not the easiest task on a cold January night in Dalston but somehow, Gaël Le Cornec transports us to a hot, Brazilian favela for an hour. There, the Brazilian-French actress becomes Gilda, a colourful young woman searching for love and identity.
The Last Days of Gilda is a solo show that combines storytelling, gossip and existential angst with a hint of Magic Realism (or possibly just fantasy). Most of all though, the play tells the story of a slum-dweller who would like to be a film star but is trapped in a claustrophobic village. Life there is hard for Gilda as she is undervalued by everyone except her pigs and chickens.
Rodrigo de Roure and his director Victor Esses build up the atmosphere well. Gilda is proudly cleaning her shanty-hut as her audience arrives, always ready with a sexy wiggle to emphasise her under-clothed curves.
As she talks about the meagre income that her chickens bring in, we begin to hear of the men who admire the slim, vain, frizzy-haired beauty. Each is imperfect, married, lonely, brainless and often all three. Judging by the jealousy of the local women, their men folk are also fond of funding her lifestyle, in return for largely unmentioned favours.
While she relates the tale, Gilda goes about her domestic business using some clever physical theatre techniques and two versatile rags, one white, one red, that are miraculously transformed into a wide variety of different cooking ingredients.
An hour is too long for this woman to keep up her semblance of happy contentedness and almost suicidal depression begins to leak into her life, which is quite disturbing in such a small space.
This production under the banner of Casa, the Latin American flagship in London, draws in its audience, thanks to the care that has gone into its creation and the novelty of a look at a life rarely investigated in North London.
This is a short run but anyone with an evening free later in the week would do well to travel to the Arcola and thence, to the shabby exotic reality of Gilda's favela.