THE MONOCLE – Exeter Northcott Theatre


26 June 2024




A year ago I came across Rendez-Vous Dance for the first time. The show was ‘What Songs May Do’ and I described it in one word, ‘Outstanding’. Following such a fulfilling experience, one yearns for any follow-up to be on an equal standard. ‘The Monocle’ is just that.

The audience is drawn into Paris of the 1930’s; the City had been a melting pot of artistry in all its forms of music and self-expression and in the midst was a thriving gay and lesbian community.  Here clubs like ‘Le Monocle’ existed, providing a secure environment where visitors could be themselves without fear of interference and condemnation. The atmosphere is heady and seductive.

An incredibly effective set provides a curtained stage, art deco double doors and a bar, lit with gradually colour changing lights strung high above – there is an intimacy which the viewers feel very much part of. As the performers appear; the club owner, the bartender, the singer, the patrons, the mood becomes charged as their stories are revealed through song and dance.

The first major strength of the show is found in the depth of the narrative which provides both performer and audience with the most fascinating story to tell; contemporary dance can sometimes leave the onlooker cold, not here. ‘What Songs May Do’ was accompanied by songs performed by Nina Simone, here the singing is live and is sublime; Imogen Banks has vocals which appear to have been plucked from the period; intoxicating and seductive. (In fact the show doesn’t even pause for the interval as the chanteuse continues to perform throughout – what a privilege!). As the performers, mingle, blend and exert themselves we see the beauty of their collaborative work and the genius of choreographer Mathieu Geffré; his ability to create the complex and the ravishing through dance and make it so seamless is breathtaking; one gasps and stares in admiration as you soak up the artistry on display.

As the tale develops a malevolent force appears in the form of a threatening, faceless, black coated figure; the embodiment of the German occupation of Paris which spelled the end of Le Monocle. Having witnessed the joie de vivre of the characters in the show, to have loved and laughed with them (and there is one particular very funny sequence) the end of the good times pulls at the emotions almost unexpectedly – it is something of a coup de theatre; joy one minute and despair the next.

Throughout there are so many sequences that stand out; the collective sequence at the bar where the complexities of the movement seems to defy logic; the incredibly poignant taping down one of the characters breasts; the astonishing routine of the bartender. The whole show is charged with sex and eroticism; it is quite something. The issue of sexuality is so very current which gives this show extra impact and relevance.

The musical compositions by James Keane and the overall soundscape wrap the whole show up so well and provide an accompaniment so fitting to the story and period. The lighting and costume designs likewise create exactly the right feel to fit in with the other elements of the production.

Mathieu Geffré has created an astonishing piece of theatre which is accessible, fascinating, educational and endlessly inventive. Rendez-Vous Dance is a company which is producing theatre on a level which surprises, emotes and is not afraid to confront sensitivities; it is offering productions of the highest standard by incredibly talented artists. I cannot recommend them highly enough.



Alyssa Lisle

Coralie Calfond

Jemima Colin

Natassa Argyroupoulou

Ruth Howard

Zara Phillips

Imogen Banks



Artistic Director and Choreographer – Mathieu Geffré

Associate Director – Andrew Gardiner

Composer and Musical Director – James Keane

Set and Costume Design – Helen Herbert & Nate Gibson

Production Manager & Relighter – Rachel Shipp

Original Light Design – Josh Harriette


A Rendez-Vous Dance Production