By: Mar. 15, 2018

Review: THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE: ADELAIDE FESTIVAL 2018 at Adelaide Town Hall Reviewed by Fiona Talbot-Leigh, Wednesday 14th March 2018.

Fifteen years ago, in 2003, this quaint French cartoon feature swept the globe, raking up dozens of awards and nominations along the way, due in part to its Oscar-nominated score by Benoît Charest. Charest is a composer from Montreal and has written over 20 film scores, The Triplets of Belleville earning him many awards.

Charest has returned with his film and this time he has brought along with him Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville: Daniel Thouin, keyboard and accordion, Bryan Head, drums, Maxime St-Pierre, trumpet, Bruno Lamarche, saxophone, clarinet, and flute, Edouard Touchette, trombone, Morgan Moore, double bass and bass guitar, Michael Emeneau, percussion and electric vibraphone, with Charest playing guitar and directing this incredible ensemble. Charest recreates his brilliant score live as the film, The Triplets of Belleville, is beamed onto the large screen. The story follows the misadventures of a kidnapped Tour de France cyclist, his would-be rescuer grandmother, and the trio of larger-than-life divas, all accompanied by surreal comedy and, of course, the amazing score, which makes for a unique experience and one that I would highly recommend.

The Adelaide Town Hall was filled to capacity as we bore witness to an array of activity both on and off the screen. Charest, along with all of the musicians, has a wonderful sense of humour and, before the movie began, he introduced us to the members of his orchestra with a witty story for each one. Once the introductions were made the first port of call was for Charest to play a vacuum cleaner solo, with the rest of the orchestra accompanying him. Yes you read that right, a vacuum cleaner, and the laughter gradually rippled throughout the audience as the tune became recognisable as AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long, a very funny and energetic start to the evening which just got better as the movie started and the plot began to unfold.

It feels almost surreal to be sitting in the same room as a live orchestra plays the opening credits to a movie, especially the rich full sounds of the vaudeville era. This production was a feast for the senses as, although there was only eight on stage, you could be mistaken for thinking there was a full orchestra in the room.

For the most part, the musicians sat and played as the audience became engrossed in the storyline but, each time The Triplets in the movie performed their haunting melodies, some musicians would stand and go to the middle of the stage, performing sound effects on cue and turning an already wonderful moment into an even better one.

Everything comes together so well in this production, and Charest's unmistakable and upbeat style had people toe tapping throughout the whole show. It was a unique experience and one that I would be happy to repeat.