Cirkopolis provides perfect escapism
Cirkopolis Cirque Eloize Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch, until November 19.
Montreal-based Cirque E´ loize has been touring internationally since it was founded in 1993 and its arrival in Christchurch, when the city is already in a celebratory mood, is timely indeed.
If you ever dreamed of running away and joining the circus this is definitely the show for you.
What makes Cirque E´ loize’s productions distinctive is the way in which circus acts are integrated into a themed narrative. As the title suggests, this production draws inspiration from Fritz Lang’s classic movie Metropolis, but also from Charlie Chaplin’s
Modern Times and perhaps even The Office. Escape from the deadening routine of life in a great industrial city is the show’s theme and Cirkopolis provides the perfect means of escape for cast and audience.
Unlike a conventional circus, where each act is a discrete entity,
Cirkopolis is a continuously evolving production in which the entire cast of eight men and four women are involved throughout the show.
Even during solo acts other cast members participate, as support crew, providing comic distraction or setting up links to the next act.
Although the performance takes place on an empty stage, atmospheric lighting, music and a seamlessly realised sequence of projected imagery provides an evocative and endlessly changing setting. We are transported from the bowels of the city’s basements, through cavernous machine halls in which cogs and wheels turn remorselessly and upwards and onwards to towering skyscrapers.
During Selene Ballesteros Minguer’s rope act, the integration of projected backgrounds with the performer’s routine creates the illusion that she is rising ever higher, even as she rotates in gravity-defying routines above the stage. Contortionist Alexie Maheu makes the impossible seem almost routine, and Ashley Carr’s clowning attempts to rival her feats only emphasise their extraordinariness. Carr also introduces a note of poignancy in a wistful sequence interacting with a dress and scarf on a coat rack. The international cast includes New Zealander Rosita Hendry, who performs a graceful cyr wheel routine.
The show concludes with a rousing tumbling sequence and the ever-increasing piles of office papers that are a recurring motif throughout the show are finally sent flying as the shackles of bureaucratic thraldom are cast off.
This is an exhilarating show for the entire family, but if you take your children don’t blame me if they decide to join the circus.
What makes Cirque E´ loize’s productions distinctive is the way in which circus acts are integrated into a themed narrative.