Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Cirque Eloise"

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note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Sheila Barth

"Cirque Eloize"
an urban explosion

Reviewed by Sheila Barth

When theatergoers entered the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre last week, they felt like they were still outside. Loud ambulance, fire and police sirens, bustling traffic, horns, construction jackhammers resounded throughout the large theater.

The stage became an urban jungle, bursting with rock, electronic and poetic music, video projections, and young, energetic break dancers, jumping, twirling, leaping, as the background shifted from blank to a chalk-like black-and-white streetscape, with people popping in and out of windows.

Artistic Director/CEO Jeannot Painchaud’s amazing Cirque Eloize production, “ID,” exploded on the scene for the next two hours, with young athletic acrobats, contortionists, a juggler, and a stunt biker defying gravity while creating stunning, balletic moves. The troupe employs 16 performers who hail from seven countries. Each adds his/her own international flair.

Robert Massicotte and Alexis Laurence’s eye-popping video projections, Nicolas Descoteaux’s dramatic lighting, and a throbbing, pulsating sound system intensify and electrify every stunt, whether it’s Emi Vauthey of Switzerland ethereally ascending, descending, twirling, or hanging suspended from two white aerial silks, or two muscular male dancers brawling in a street fight.

Contortionist Vauthey defies human anatomy with her astounding elasticity, her legs walking 360 degrees around her bent-over head and torso.

French bike trick rider Thibaut Philippe evoked ooohs and gasps, riding his bike on its back wheel, jumping from the stage to several levels, then descending. During the second act, the audience and a volunteer held their collective breaths as Philippe bounced on his back wheel between the volunteer’s head and shoulders, between his legs, and criss-crossed from one side of his body to the other.

As construction crews took a lunch break or carried large panes of glass (probably lucite or plexiglas), Canadian juggler Nicolas Fortin played ball, performing spectacular feats, simultaneously bouncing several balls in the air, on the glass panes, with jaw-dropping precision. The tall, vibrant performer has a degree in civil engineering but has applied his spatial skills by performing with Cirque Eloize for the past seven years.

The ensemble retreated to childplay, jumping rope within jumpropes, then within another large jumprope.

There’s romance, too. Lovers danced hand-in-hand, adagio-style, their bodies twisting, turning, and intertwining.

One performer scaled the heights and stacked the deck - literally - stacking one chair atop another, while performing handstands at various heights. Then, one by one, he removed the chairs, while still balancing, until he reached the stage floor.

Twirling with rapid speed inside a large Cyr wheel, Canadian Josianne LeVasseur spun around dizzily, as cityfolk continued their business around her.

The show ended with a heart-stopping finale, much like human fireworks, as the performers jumped aboard a trampowall, running upwards, walking, with seamless anti-gravity, hurtling through space, then down, then collectively, like one big Fourth of July fireworks finish.

"Cirque Eloize" (10 - 15 May)
@ Wang Center, 270 Tremont Street, BOSTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide