In Germinal, Halory Goerger and Antoine Defoort, with Beatriz Setien and Arnaud Boulogn, create a theatre work that with childlike curiosity and innocence, starts us out in a world where we know nothing, but we have our intuitions and a little sense of adventure. From this dark and exciting place we get to witness the entire universe unfolding, or a fun, video-game style version of it. This work is utterly delightful. While diving quickly into discussions of basic philosophy, the show resists pretentiousness and makes even difficult discussions palatable with a dash of silliness.
The show is structured by the technology and theatrical devices that make it possible – projectors, lights, curtains, the floor, a laptop, a guitar and amplifier, and other surprises hidden beneath the floorboards. The performers navigate this mysterious world with curiosity and intelligence and honesty. They describe and categorise things, but not too rigorously – they spend a lot of time sorting things into ‘poc poc’ and ‘not poc poc’, based on the kind of sound it makes when you try to tap it with a microphone. When something becomes boring, they look for a new approach, and at the end, they sing a song about how far they have come. The work had a sense of purity and unity that I rarely see in theatre.
To be perfectly honest, to go into detail of what happened in the show almost hurts a little, because I don’t like to unpack what I felt was a really magical theatre experience. I already mentioned that it was childlike, and I’ll say again that it made me feel like a child, excited by things that by this point in my life I had accepted as more or less normal or unremarkable. Yet rather than being simplistic or naive, it was buoyed along by a sense of it all being a kind of act, revealed by the little mentions of something a bit adult like or the unstated assumptions that allow the work to exist in the form that it does. Most of all, it was obvious that the artists care deeply about the audience, and wanted us to have a good and enriching time. This kindness stayed with me.