Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Finnish actor and mime artist Marc Gassot incorporates traditional French-style mime, slapstick comedy, and some circus techniques into a somewhat macabre show.
A white-gloved mime in a traditional suit with bow tie rides on to the stage on a hobby horse. He proceeds to amplify the drama and comedy with funny routines around the mounting and riding of the horse. By the end of that section, he has shown his prowess as a physical theatre artist and entertainer.
That sets the tone for an hour of gags with sound effects that are reminiscent of old-style circus clowning. Finnish actor and mime artist Marc Gassot has collaborated with musician, composer and producer Karl Sinkkonen to underscore the antics and move the story forward. Everything is well-synchronized, from the off-stage noises of circus animals to some comic sounds.
Gassot warms up the audience with the short horse routine, then shows off other circus skills. There are the “got you” gags, where an impressive routine is revealed to be aided by a simple prop. Gassot has a funny imaginary fight with an off-stage lion. There are other cliches that one would expect in a mime show, like balancing a ladder on the chin. Those long-standing bits are often delivered with an amusing and sometimes horror twist not seen in other circus shows. And, of course, there is the requisite death scene, very drawn out and quite comical (don’t worry, he doesn’t actually die).
There is audience involvement throughout the show, mostly in making encouraging noises from the seats. For his last big magic trick, Gassot brings a man onto the stage from the audience to be put into a box. Gassot produces a big saw, then proceeds to saw the man in the box in half, separating the two halves onto different sides of the stage. The audience never sees that man again, but it is assumed he survived because his head was still moving when the box was rolled into the wings. Often that trick is made more convincing to the audience by having hands or feet in the second half of the box wiggling while the head continues to move in the first separated half. Gassot did not include that feature.
The style is reminiscent of old cartoons with recurring themes. The work is well executed. However it takes nearly the first half of the show for the audience to be fully engaged. A solo show is tough when there is very little language and few props. Gassot has the skills. He is a well-trained mime who studied at Theater Academy Finland, École Internationale de Thèâtre de Jacques Lecoq and École Philippe Gaulier. With better direction that creates more excitement, the show would be more captivating. Faster pacing and more variety in routines would heighten the interest from the audience. Overall, it is a pleasant show for audiences aged 12 and over.
Circo Aereo is an international contemporary circus group from Finland and France.