The title of Jean-Daniel Broussé’s solo show is a pun on the French word for bread and, of course, the English word for suffering. Over 55 minutes, Broussé – or JD, as he calls himself – gives a practical demonstration of how to make baguettes while sharing the pain of having to choose between continuing the family business or becoming a performer. A batch of lively scenes, devised and developed by JD with director Ursula Martinez, deploy dance, music, film and acrobatics to tell the story, in this fourth-ever performance (not all are oven-ready).
JD comes from a line of bakers. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather ran a boulangerie in the south of France. Donning an apron, he mixes his ingredients: “1kg patriarchy, 750ml Christian values, 70g sentimentality, 20g small-town mindset”. As a voiceover narrates the process by which dough is formed, JD climbs into a white, stretchy, fabric sack, Martha Graham-style, and mimes being kneaded, thrown, twisted, turned. The making of bread as a metaphor for the shaping of a life is unforced and very funny.
We are introduced to the area where JD grew up, its dances and customs (he delivers a tale in the regional language Occitan to his own bagpipe accompaniment). On screen, his mother gleefully sings a scabrous lyric she devised to describe past dissatisfactions with her life; his father, packing up the business his son will not carry on, philosophically contrasts endings and beginnings. We meet the doctor who diagnoses JD’s gluten intolerance – the rejector rejected.
The darker side of JD’s experiences, as a queer man in a small town, is suggested in his mischievous comparisons between himself and Jesus – naughty, but nicely done. This comparison is implicit also in the conclusion. JD invites the audience to eat the six loaves baked in his on-stage oven; his sharing of self through performance is also a celebration of our communality. The bread tastes good.