Here Gets the Paris Syndrome

In the immortal words of Jonathan Richman, “If you don’t think Paris was made for love/Give Paris one more chance.” But if you suffer from Paris Syndrome, also the title of Ex.Pgirl’s surreal dance-theater piece, one more chance could be dangerous to your health. Brought on by severe culture shock, Paris Syndrome is an allegedly real psychological disorder that afflicts more than a dozen Japanese female tourists in the City of Lights each year. Symptoms include believing you are Marie Antoinette, talking to microwaves, and imagining your hotel room is bugged.

Exploring the vast cultural divide that brings on this psychosis, Paris Syndrome is an energetic mishmash of vaudeville, dance, video, and games that—similar to visiting a foreign country—can be pleasantly disorienting and, at times, difficult to understand (actors occasionally speak only in French or Japanese). One minute, the talented cast of six women, capably directed by Emma Griffin, are shouting trivia questions to the audience; the next, they’re curiously committing hara-kiri. In this hallucinatory world created by Bertie Ferdman and Suzi Takahashi (who does a killer Edith Piaf), Marcel Marceau battles Godzilla, and performers dressed as candlelit tables wildly do the cancan against a backdrop of stunning visuals. Though the insights offered on these cultures are as fluffy as a choux à la crème, Paris Syndrome is, nevertheless, a treat worth indulging in.

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