James Thierrée’s

The Toad Knew

September 19 - 23, 2017

The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare

A World’s Stage Production
from France

Critical Acclaim


“Not so much a show as a mass hallucination, the latest piece from James Thierrée puts a spell on the audience with its mixture of ravishing visuals, seductive music and breathtaking acrobatics… a sorcerer’s apprentice-style laboratory or crystal maze where science meets magic, with Heath Robinson-style machines and trick spiral staircases.

This is not a show for those who like their theatre to be concrete, issue-based and quite clearly about something. For the rest of us, it offers a chance to dream and allow our imaginations to take flight and soar with a little help from Thierrée and his toad.”


“A show that interlaces vibrant imagery with tremendously accomplished physical performance…The bringing together of such simple, timeless pleasures of popular entertainment with Thiérrée’s bizarre visual imagination and his vivid, often emotive music is masterful. These elements are accompanied wonderfully by the soulful, plaintive singing of Sierra Leonean performer Mariama and the astonishing work of Compagnie du Hanneton’s technical team (who operate an amazing array of mechanical props, lights and aerial equipment).

It all makes for a unique theatrical experience – small wonder that the Edinburgh premiere of Thiérrée’s beautiful oddity was cheered to the rafters.”


Edinburgh Festivals

“A captivating performance from the outset…a magnificent feat of circus, comedy, dance, and music. Compagnie du Hanneton immerse the audience in their dark, fairytale landscape that has more than a few surprises…The play is not only a fantastical showcase of talent and ability, but a hilarious and clever narrative that leaves young and old laughing along throughout despite the lack of speech…Mesmerizing, enchanting, and a truly astounding production.


The Herald Scotland

“Drink in all the fantastical sights and sounds of the eccentric lair that’s revealed when the red velvet curtain is swallowed up into the wings…If there are mechanical marvels – often powered by sporadic, cranky, surges of light – there are flesh-and-blood marvels as well. Valérie Doucet’s acrobatic finesse, flick-flacking in rapid back-flips. Nguyen Thi Mai, an aerial sprite in the web of overhead cables. And Thiérrée himself, of course. A consummate rubber-boned comedic genius who can spin a hilarious fankle out of merely donning a jacket. And who can…make everyday actions into a visual aria of wrong-footed (and handed) mayhem. The Toad knew this production was a kaleidoscope of magical surprises. All you need to know is that it is a triumph of quixotic dreaming.

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