Cirkopo­lis pro­vides per­fect es­capism

The Press - - Culture - IAN LOCHEAD

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.

SUP­PLIED

What makes Cirque E´ loize’s pro­duc­tions dis­tinc­tive is the way in which cir­cus acts are in­te­grated into a themed nar­ra­tive.

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