Cirkopolis is an exhilarating and explosive brew of juggling, acrobatics, comedy, dance and music. It sweeps the audience off the mundane just like Ashley -the clown character in the show. It’s a solid one and a half hour of exuberant journey through a parallel colourful world.
The clown character Ashley played by Ashley Carr is not the conventional red nosed clown. He is a modern man in formal wear who tries to keep his fun life at the circus aside and get his mind to a heap of paperwork on his office desk in the opening scene. In a throwback to Chaplin’s modern times, colossal projections of giant machines convey an office worker’s reality where all happiness is sucked out of life. A satire on modern day living as frequently the scene around switch to towering images of bleak sky scrappers.
Ashley is saved from his monotonous drudgery of a life by his friends from the circus. They step in to remind Ashley of the life that he had once tasted. The fun, the colours, the applause. The plot hinges on the device of Ashley going on a flash back journey through which an inspiring re-invented circus show is presented.
The second act is serene in contrast to the opening scene. Lea Toran Jenner glides in her Cyr Wheel beautifully flowing in her red short dress. Nostalgia and yearning are churned around the space creating a whirlwind of memories for Ashley. Maria Combarros performs a breathtaking balancing act as she walks on the palms of a group of male dancers. Combarros can certainly trust on the fitness of the group of men to lend support when she is balancing on their palms, finishing on the highest point on a single palm being held up as a winning trophy.
The show builds up and by this point the audience is already high on adrenaline as Frederic Lemieux-Cormier and his mates come in on his German Wheel. This Act is a display of strength, control and focus. Strong and muscular male performers with Cormier in the lead hang, jump, attack, lean on and balance on this huge wheel setting the space in a dynamic motion. Through lighter scenes of comic relief Ashley inter weaves these acts. Jerome Sordillon’s aerial act on straps continue with the display of masculine physicality, balance and strength. A lighter air is brought in by the final act on Chinese pole bringing together great choreography with dance and acrobatics Three of the performers brilliantly use the pole while the ramaining performers cheer them in the choreography.
The final scene is a joyous dance where stacks of papers that were neatly piled up on the office desk are now thrown in the air and they rain upon Ashley as he celebrates his new found freedom with his friends and a bottle of Champagne.
Cirkopolis expertly juxtaposes contemporary circus against the grey melancholy of modern urban living. Directrs Dave St-Pierre and Jeannot Painchaud deftly combine circus acts with music, theatre and dance creating a hugely entertaining and uplifting experience.
Reviewed by Protima Chatterjee