Peacock Theatre, London, UK; October 1, 2013       

Jessica Wilson       

Cirque Éloize in 'ID'. Photo © Theatre T Cie / Valérie Remise

Cirque Éloize in ‘iD’.
Photo © Theatre T Cie / Valérie Remise

It begins as every city commuter’s day does. The performers of Cirque Éloize cross the stage as if on a journey. But then they leap into a dazzling display of break dancing, aerial hooping, complex juggling, acrobatics and incredible skill and strength. That city feel underlies everything, though, developing further as street relationships grow and identities forge.

As a leader in the world of contemporary circus, Cirque Éloize has been creating innovative, magic performances since 1993, filled with theatricality and the incredible talent of its multidisciplinary artists. In combining circus arts with urban dance and theatre, the company’s brand new creation, “iD”, crackles with daring and twenty-first century influences.

With echoes of Cirque du Soleil, “iD” is a confident, complex mix of street dance and spectacle, from a towering stack of chairs with a handstand perched on top, to a love duet that chases through various positions of contortion and breaking. The show is a true crowd-pleaser. The audience lapped up the mix of breaking and tumbling interspersed with contortion and circus skills. Each performer was a credit to their cause. For much of the performance people watched with baited breath. The amount of risk heightened the anticipation and appeal, yet at times also made it uncomfortable to watch.

“iD” is emotionally, rather than narrative led and an apt name for a show containing so many identities and specialities, high energy and complete commitment. The opening duet is one of hand-to-hand acrobatics, the artists displaying extreme strength and control in a daring, almost juggling act. From here the energy of the evening grew.

Sometimes the dance breaks distracted from the circus skills the performers were so adept at. Crowd sections also drew the attention away from the daring of the individual, especially during the Chinese pole. Here Conor Neall was death-defying in a quite illusionistic performance; like the majority of the show creating suspense and heart-in-the-mouth excitement. Marriages of opposing skills were everywhere. Most notable was a stunning performance in silks from Emi Vauthey and the roller skating Jon Larrucea, adding a strand of touching narrative continuing from the former’s earlier contortion performance.

Cirque Éloize in 'iD'. Photo © Theatre T Cie / Valérie Remise

Cirque Éloize in ‘iD’.
Photo © Theatre T Cie / Valérie Remise

With the content and focus constantly changing, “iD” gives the impression that it is much longer than it is. With performers emerging on roller skates, bicycles, numerous glass sheets, tennis balls and pneumatic pogo drills, there are many tense moments and seemingly near misses. But this is a strong team of artists, working as one.

The city mood does diminish somewhat as the show goes on, although the innovative use of the set, complete with its hidey-holes and even a trampowall, continues. The presence of that trampowall came as a shock to some audience members, as the captivating Ignacio Advarve fell backwards off the highest point of the set, only to bounce straight back up again! Sighs of relief were quite audible when the performers completed their pieces with no accidents.

The second act of “iD” is distinctly less male dominated than the first where, while the females held their places in the team, the majority of the focus was on the men. Still, the ability to have fun, shock and surprise the audience continued.

Throughout, the music gives the movement a hardened edge but the awe-inspiring circus skills and incredible talent were breath-taking and undeniable. Both charismatic and brilliant fun, this bouncy show is a must-see. Looking around the theatre, the audience was hugely diverse and ranged from the under-10s to the post-70s; a huge testament to this entertaining and thoroughly watchable ensemble.