Canadian company Cirque Éloize was formed in 1993 and has gained a high reputation for performing circus arts with music, dance and theatre with many of its company having worked with Cirque du Soleil.
Their latest production Cirkopolis is inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and is set around a clerk (Ashley Carr) who is drowning in a sea of paperwork. Around him, grey hatted, suited and over-coated drones move in robotic monotony like an animated Magritte painting, oblivious to his seemingly simple yet overwhelming task.
Giant grinding cogs projected on the white panelled screen stand as a metaphor for his and their Kafkaesque working lives. But nothing’s more sure than change and it magically comes in the form of the circus coming not to town, but in to the life of this lowly and lonely man.
These bureaucrats’ clothes may be (mostly) grey but the multi-layered, immaculate talent of the 12-strong cast adds its own dazzling colour to this fantastic show.
When the lights in the auditorium start to shudder on and off and crashing sounds are heard it’s clear something special is afoot. The castored feet of the clown/clerk’s seat give way to a series of spectacular multidisciplinary adventures.
What Lea Toran Jenner can do with and within a cyr wheel beggars belief. Her red dressed performance holds poignant echoes of Albert Lamorisse’s classic film Le Ballon Rouge with the wheel seemingly having a life of its own, like the boy’s balloon in the film. Her feminine elegance is contrasted with the masculine precision on the German wheel, an 80kg hamster wheel that holds up to 6 dancers and the Chinese Pole sees artistes climbing up comme les singes and slipping down it like human abacus beads.
Ugo Laffolay’s breath taking ever higher hand stands are given greater perspective as the astonishing video projections from Robert Massicotte and Alexis Lawrence soar to skyscraper’ tips through a leaden sky. The almost 3d effects of internal industrial expanses add a phenomenal dimension to this already brilliant show with old gramophone speakers pulsing to hi- octane sounds at one scene.
Juggling, trapeze and barefoot balancing on a row of shifting hands all involve immense trust among the cast. Maria Combarros’ eye wateringly supple contortion displays supported by the male troupe are shrugged off with a sassy insouciance as she slips through the ever changing backdrop. Throughout, Ashley Carr plays the sad clowning role with casual comic panache and his take on the empty dress on the moveable rack loses none of the symbol’s classic poignancy.
The second act takes on a softer dreamier more colourful look taking the piece to its optimistic finale. Against a mock big top background the troupe tumbles and acrobats with the women now in beautifully structured swimsuits before an anarchic confetti shower of paperwork snows the stage.
This enriching and uplifting experience, accompanied throughout by a marvellous range of eclectic music from composer Stefan Boucher, is top ranking circus without the sawdust -a wow with a capital W!
Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 April 2015, 7.30pm
Tour continues to Cardiff