Last night the circus came to Birmingham, Cirque Éloize brought the captivating contemporary circus performance Cirkopolis to the stage. For the first Circus production that I’ve ever seen, I preempted the impressive acrobatics but I did not expect it to be so beautifully moving. Whilst Cirque Éloize exudes European humour and typical silly circus moments, the simplicity of the production perfectly captured the stunning talent of performers and I especially found the smaller moments highly emotive.
Cirkopolis is inspired by the 1927 film Metropolis, the stage is practically empty with minimal set despite a huge projection on the back wall of the theatre. The show begins with a surge of heavy industrial sounds and ominous lighting creating a sense of tension as the audience eagerly await the spectacle of Cirkopolis to begin.
The curtain rose to a man in a grey suit (the clown) sat at a desk getting on with a day at work, clearly representing a normal person living a typical work life. As the music builds the performance intensifies when the rest of the cast in grey suits stride across the stage. They then began to revolt and break out against the normality of their lives as they enter a dystopian world through acrobatic leaps and flips.
Grey surrounds the stage until a beacon of colour appears as a woman takes to the stage balancing on the arms of the male performers, stretching and contorting her body with her feet never touching the ground. I was entranced by the strength and intricacy the performers had when performing this scene, unable to blink as I sat on the edge of my chair anticipating a slip of the hand. Of course the performers did not disappoint as they calmly executed their routine with precision.
The stand out performance is Lea Toran Jenner on the Cyr Wheel. She beautifully glides and spins across the stage in a flawless red dress, creating a moving and emotional performance. She moves with an elegance and grace that appears effortless and her creative use of gravity and motion allows her to perpetually float around the stage in circular motions to a piano ballad.
After each scene the clown enters the stage and initiates the element of comedy as he attempts to mimic the performers routine and inevitably fails to do so. In the second act the Chinese Pole is introduced to the stage and two male and one female performers perform a breathtaking routine as they climb up the pole and balance by merely their arms as they contort and stretch their legs into different positions. The audience literally gasp as they let go and free fall at speed through the air to then grasp onto the bar at the bottom and hold an extraordinary position.
After an array of acrobatics, juggling and precarious apparatus, the show ends with the clown back in his office sorting papers. Swiftly the colourful circus burst through the office and their vibrancy creates a spectacular finale as they leap across the stage and perform mesmerising acrobatics. One by one they position themselves on the end of a seesaw, as another performer jumps onto one side the other performer flies into the air doing flips and turns until they land strong and eloquently. It all builds up to the clown who previously failed to perform any of the tricks, he takes his position on the seesaw and the audience cheers as he acrobats into the air and lands with precision.
Cirkopolis was a faultless performance bursting with creativity and flawless technique. In a Q&A session held after the performance, it became evident that a majority of the performers trained at the huge prestigious circus school in Montreal. At the school not only were they taught circus skills and became a master in their discipline, they also learnt to dance and act in order for them to become the well rounded performers that they are.
Cirkopolis has toured the world and it will only be in Birmingham until Saturday the 28th of March. I’d highly recommend this show for anyone interested in any aspects of theatre as it combines circus skills, dance, humour and acting to create a truly poignant and compelling show.
Don’t miss out, tickets are available for Cirkopolis at The Birmingham Hippodrome here.
Photo Source is courtesy of the Cirque Éloize website.