IT’S CIRCUS time in Cape Town. The Montreal-based company Cirque Éloize is performing Cirque Éloize iD at Artscape from November 16-27. Followspot Productions of Kalk Bay is staging its festive season bonsai cirque show, Au Revoir at the Kalk Bay Theatre from November 8 to December 31.
One of my highlights of the theatre year was seeing Slava’s Snow Show at Artscape – an exhilarating experience of visual theatre and one of the most innovative displays of clowning I have seen.
Slava worked so well because of the intimacy of the setting. Many promoters opt for an arena setting for cirque-type shows and much of the magic is lost in a large venue.
Showtime Management – which brought out Slava – is treating us to the acclaimed Cirque Éloize. The production was staged in Joburg in 2014 where it sold out, but was not staged in Cape Town. For the return tour, we will finally see it before it moves to the Montecasino Teatro on November 30.
Cirque Éloize was started by Jean Painchaud who was a member of Cirque de Soleil. With financial assistance from Cirque de Soleil, he started his own company, subsequently bought Cirque de Soleil’s shares and is now sole owner.
Hazel Feldman of Showtime Management saw iD when she was in Singapore about six years ago, with Jersey Boys. “I hadn’t heard of this company. I absolutely fell in love. It’s a cirque show but it’s hip hop meets contemporary circus. The artists wear contemporary clothing – like cut-off jeans. The show is designed for a theatre, not for an arena and the set is incredible, with multiple media and video mapping on the walls and original music.”
iD stands for identity. Although, there is no dialogue, there is a story line akin to West Side Story with two gangs fighting in an urban landscape.
Talking of venues, last festive season Kalk Bay Theatre operators Vanessa Harris and Ash Searle transformed their 77-seater into a circus tent with a cirque-styled show, Bon Soir. It was dazzling, stylish, witty and energetic. Part of the thrill was wondering how performers could execute acrobatic feats in such a small area. The show sold out during the festive season and at The National Arts Festival.
The 2016 festive edition, Au Revoir, features 22 acts in 70 minutes. The Au Revoir cast of six is different to Bon Soir – except for Ash Searle. Harris, who is directing and choreographing muses: “I don’t want to give too much away. We have amazing talent, withhints of burlesque, steampunk, acrobatics, dance, physical comedy and vocals.”
Although Pieter-Dirk Uys can hardly be billed a cirque performer, there are layers of the straight-faced clown in his alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout, who has been glamming it up for 35 years. With tremendous insight, pathos and mirth, she takes the mickey out of the circus of politics in this country, but always infused with hope and optimism.
See her in An Evening With Evita Bezuidenhout – at Artscape Theatre on November 1, 2 and 6 – as she cooks for reconciliation in Luthuli House – with her three born-free grandchildren kibitzing over her to do the right thing.
Tickets for Cirque Éloize iD are R175-R425. Tickets cost R150 to see An Evening with Evita Bezuidenhout. Book for both at Computicket or Artscape 021 421 7695. Tickets for Au Revoir are R155 for show (starts 8.30pm). Dinner from 6.30pm (ala carte); two-for-the-price-of-one on Tuesdays. Book at www.kalkbaytheatre. co.za or 021 788 7257.
At the Kalk Bay Theatre, cast of six will feature 22 acts in 70 minutes.