Edinburgh Fringe 2017
“blend of circus, theatre and dance, Quebec’s Cirque Éloize transform classic film Metropolis into a virtuosic spectacle for the whole family. As artists rebel, their grey cityscape is replaced by absurd humour, beautiful poetry and bursts of brilliant colour, in a world where fantasy defies reality. “
Cirkopolis is a theatrical circus and dance show by the well-known Cirque Éloize from Quebec. Based on this, expectations are high and Cirkopolis doesn’t disappoint. The film Metropolis is the foundation of the show for design and concept, and the physical skills we expect from a circus are there but cleverly interspersed with theatricality. Two clowns in matching grey suits, trench coats and hats walk around the audience in this huge space talking to people and directing them to seats before the show starts. These retro costumes and clown characters are different and idiosyncratic, part of the inspiration from Metropolis.
An old style metal desk on stage is covered with piles of papers and soon characters fill the stage. The ensemble walks in stylised movement and rhythm across the stage and back again, en masse, all wearing the same grey trench coats and hats as the clowns. They show the daily monotony and repetition of working in offices, the rat race. There are sprinkles of words and phrases spoken in different languages by the international cast. Then a group doing acrobatics come to the fore and do a wonderful springy act with complex balances, unusual lifts, flips and twists; it’s very exciting with excellent precision.
Cirque Éloize expands the tumbling, and balance skill vocabulary with their creativity and how they enmesh skills in the theme and atmosphere of the story. The entire back wall of the theatre is very well used as a screen for giant projections and video that provide beautiful imagery and dramatic depth of perspective. Some of the projections are ornate or stark buildings, which we are led into suggesting that we could also be inside a video game.
A performer in a lyrical red dress brings in a giant cyr wheel and performs to angelic music, this is pure movement and grace as she floats across and around the stage, dancing and exploring the wheel with some balletic steps, taking our breath away. Gears turn in the background ominously and transitions to a tall statue visually introducing the next act, the video projections are full on and are present most of the time, it’s a very effective way to offer gorgeous visuals that quickly change sets and locations, while keeping the space free and open for their physical acts and movement ensemble.
A jazzy juggling club act becomes an inventive dance and a giant wide wheel act is beautifully devised as athletic men take turns on the wheel while others perform choreographed contemporary acro dance sequences. It’s also dark and moody, enhanced by the excellent lighting effects throughout the show.
One of the most striking acts is balancing a woman in the air while she walks around, never touching the floor. Set against projections of elaborate architecture, she is flexible as she balances and moves across her five male friends who help her step by step, it sounds simple, but this act requires mutual strength and trust. The eye contact each of the six have is so strong and there is an unexpected tug of emotion at the end you can’t fail to feel. It’s a spectacular act, not only for the level of skill and expertise but also for the way it is devised with small theatrical touches.
Cirkopolis is a like a party with highly skilled entertainment. The troupe is a bonded group of friends who interact with words and familiarity during some of the transitions. It’s spirited, uses few props, has some daring acts and everything is tied together well with rich imagery and detail. It’s a joy to watch this intriguing show unfold.