note: entire contents copyright 2011 by Sheila Barth
Last week, it was almost impossible to traverse a stretch of Tremont Street, near the Cutler Majestic Theatre. The crowds in the lobby, spilling in double queues onto the street, waited excitedly to see ďPSY,Ē the mind-boggling, eye-popping acrobatic show that mesmerized Boston audiences for one week in January, and returned for two weeks this summer by request. The French-Canadian group, composed of 11 international, daring and graceful performers, create a cornucopia of thrilling stunts throughout the fast-paced show.
This troupe of amazingly lithe, exuberant performers, who each has his/her specialty skills, includes: Guillaume Biron, Mohamed Bouseta, Florent Lestage, Joshua Finck,of France; Olga Kosova of Kiev, Russia; Olav Triebel of Germany; William Underwood of San Francisco; and Heloise Bourgeois, Danica Gagnon-Plamondon, Andre Farstad and Julien Silliau of Canada.
Blinding spotlights and piped-in, booming, echoing voices surround theatergoers, vicariously enveloping us into the rapid-fire action.
This isnít your typical Cirque du Soleil or similar circus stage performances based on agility, skill, stupendous musical and multimedia extravaganzas. Itís equally awe-inspiring, but quirkier, because of its theme.
During the opening, a deep, reverberating voice provides a definition and facts about the human brain and mental disorders, while a huge, centrally located screen on stage boasts a weird Rorschach image, and a bright light sharply illuminates the audience. The spotlight shines on a limber young man, seemingly troubled, seated in the audience. He climbs on stage and suspends from a trapeze, gracefully changing positions.
Throughout the two hours, loud whispers, louder voices, blazing images, and jaw-dropping stunts occur non-stop, like fireworks catapulted skyward.
A psychological thread weaves each act together, as individuals with psychological disorders languish on the analystís couch as he takes notes. There are several group sessions, too, in which each individual introduces him/herself and announces his/her disorder. One man is obsessive-compulsive. Another is a drug addict. A young woman has a sleeping disorder,and a paranoid, psychosomatic, and hypochondriac are haunted by their fears. Thereís also a juggling free-for-all thatís physically and symbolically encompassing.
During their sessions or hallucinations, they perform, trancelike, almost under hypnotic spell. A young, dark-haired woman (Plamondon) supersedes her agoraphobia by soaring higher and higher on a trapeze, twisting, turning herself, barely grabbing on, while twisting mid-air - without a net. She swings dangerously near the rafters and network of stage lights with amazing ease.
A tender fellow recalls his childhood birthday in a fantasy, when the clown entertainer frightens him, and a bullying blonde girl (Kosova) plays a dangerous game of pin the tail on the donkey, tossing and balancing large machetes.
She later performs gravity-defying stunts on the aerial rope, and a graceful couple convert a domestic bedtime scene into a stunning, balletic performance on the Chinese pole. Silliau defies centrifugal force by spinning within the German wheel at several angles and speeds; and several performers balance on one hand, atop single stands. They jump and tumble from several levels, as though there are springs attached to their feet. Every act is outstanding in ďPSY,Ē bolstered by contemporary electronic sounds and images. This isnít just a show. Itís an unparalleled, mind-blowing experience.
BOX INFO: Two-act, two-hour multimedia, acrobatic show, presented by French-Canadian contemporary circus company, Les 7 Doigts de la Main,appearing through July 24 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St., Boston, Tuesday-Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 5,9 p.m.; Sunday, 3,7 p.m. Recommended for ages 7-up. Reserved seats start at $25. Visit www.artsemerson.org or call 617-824-8000.