Alexis Dubus: Cars & Girls
Alexis Dubus is best known for his French alter-ego Marcel Lucont, pure Gallic arrogance in a turtleneck. Out of character, Cars And Girls is a completely different bouilloire de poissons – a thoroughly charming story of adventure and love, compellingly told with a quiet modesty.
It’s a tale of an Englishman abroad trying to ‘find himself’ through his travels – from hitchhiking from London to Morocco, via adventures through Patagonia, to getting wasted at the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Other people’s globetrotting is not always so fascinating second-hand, but Dubus artfully elevates the material through his vivid, lyrical descriptions, especially of the characterful personalities he met on the way.
From breathing clichés such as the languid Mexican trucker to those that defy stereotypes, like the rednecks who couldn’t have done more to help a stranger in need, all are invoked with subtle, compelling performance. Well-judged sound cues, such as the distant honk of a ferry’s horn as he departs port, are deployed sparingly, helping create the perfect atmosphere.
Attention has been paid to every detail of the show, creating an almost cinematic scope – a feel certainly helped by some of the rich images he conjures up, such as pushing his beat-up van through the desert dust to a lonely gas station.
Cars And Girls is more of a spoken word piece, than a split-your-sides stand-up performance – but there is a generous smattering of deft jokes, while a warm wit permeates almost every line. It is as joyfully entertaining as it is engrossing, and ultimately heart-warming, too. I dare you not to have a lump in your throat at the show’s end.
All this, and it is delivered in faultless, rhyming verse, so skilfully crafted than no phrase is forced to fit the meter, Dubus’s narrative is just an elegant beat off natural conversation. What a classy, beautiful piece of work.
Review date: 16 Apr 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett