Maude Arseneault of Cirque Éloize flying in Cirkopolis. Photo © Valérie Remise

Maude Arseneault of Cirque Éloize flying in Cirkopolis.
Photo © Valérie Remise

Peacock Theatre, London, UK; February 18, 2015

Maggie Foyer

Many human beings harbour aspirations to fly – and I don’t mean Easyjet and the hassle of airport security. I am thinking of Icarus and launching solo into the skies. Well, that will probably remain a fantasy but alternatively you can see dreams come true and enjoy an evening of unbridled pleasure at Cirque Éloize.

Cirque Éloize artist can do the tricks with the best but their big selling point is their theatricality – there is always a back story – and it always has a human face. “Cirkopolis”, directed by Dave St-Pierre and Jeannot Painchaud, gives a nod to Fritz Lang’s film “Metropolis”, finding links in the background videos of machines, the modern city and the workplace drudge.

In “Cirkopolis” that ‘face’ is Ashley, (Ashley Carr) the office nerd doomed to rubber stamp a mountain of papers. Slaving away at his desk he is distracted by an invasion of colourful characters who turn, spin and somersault him out of his boring life. Each of the dozen performers is multi-skilled and the invention is non-stop.

My personal favourite was Maude Arseneault, her smile as sunny as her bright yellow outfit. That smile never dropped whether she was balancing on the interlocking hands of a trio of men or somersaulting backwards through the air. She was joined by Mikaël Bruyére-Labbé in a brilliant Chinese Pole duet performing feats with speed and agility that didn’t seem possible. Her infectious enjoyment of every moment, relishing the danger and loving the thrill, had the audience eating out of her hand.

Jugglers, contortionists and spinning wheels were all part of the action. Jérôme Sordillon gave a god-like demonstration of aerial gymnastics on straps. Maria Combarros amazingly, balanced on one leg, her supporting ankle held by the men above head height, while extending the other to a six-o’clock développé and looking pretty nonchalant about it all.

Through all the mayhem and madness Ashley hangs in there. He tries to find romance, with limited success, as he is reduced to flirting with a frock on a coat hanger. He tries his hand at the odd trick and discovers there is more to life than rubber stamps. This is probably not stuff you should try at home but it sure brings a sparkle to a cold February night.