REVIEW: Carousel and Clothesline (Vague de Cirque)

Captivating comedy at its height.

‘Circustastic’! [by Sharu Delilkan]

Captivating comedy at its height.
Captivating comedy at its height.

Carousel & Clothesline is a great lesson in life not to take ourselves too seriously.

Yes the strong ensemble demonstrates their precise acrobatics reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Éloize but it’s their emphasis on exploring the sense of play that sets this show apart from other live performances in this genre. And it is this honest humour, peppered throughout the show, that endears the dynamic troupe to the audience right from the start. In a nutshell it was refreshing to find a circus troupe that simply brought us back the childish enjoyment of comedy, happiness, wow and oooh all at the same time!

To begin with the numerous post-their-bedtime-kids’ comments and laughter complemented the already established theme of gentle comedy, outstanding gymnastics, coupled with the troupe’s good-natured performance and entertainment.

Opening with backing music, dominated by the harpsichord, introduced us to the players immediately drawing us into a feeling of an Elizabethan troupe performing for the first time at the royal palace. And if Will and Kate had chosen to attend their opening night show in Auckland I think they would have applauded warmly rather than politely.

Clown, MC, singer Philppe Thibaudeau was the thread that pulled all the acts together with his whimsy, providing a link between the performers and the audience. He did well to endear and charm as well as connect the fabulous acts with ‘subtle’ and gracious humour.

From the moment the acrobats begin strutting their stuff we’re treated to some very original, athletic, beguiling and jaw-dropping sequences. The Saturday Night Fever segment, the juggling and the agile rope work showed inventiveness with their duet performances, as well as hilarity and mood changes. Unlike some circus shows we’ve seen in New Zealand, all the participants kept in character throughout, adding a greater dimension to the story while heightening the audience’s experience. All the performances pushed the boundaries with gymnastic leaps and lifts way up toward the ceiling of the Herald Theatre.

To be honest the odd mis-step and mistake seemed to add to the edgy feel, rather than detract, as we watched the risky routines at great height and risk to the performers sans safety nets.

Despite enjoying the first half, the second part of the show was noticeably ramped up in terms of athleticism and strength, leaving the audience spellbound by their adept skills on display.

There were many beautiful parts of the show but the standouts for me, and I believe the majority of the audience, was the seductive love story of Yannick Blackburn and Fanny Laneuville-Castonguay on the trapeze. This can only be described as a masterclass in grace, poise, poignancy, skill, strength and trust along with intimacy between two people that left the audience gasping and moved. Truly a convergence of physical performance and theatricality that has to be seen to be believed. The authenticity of their chemistry made sense when I subsequently discovered that they’re indeed partners in real life. This definitely added a little spice as well as a touch of jealousy, knowing that the dynamic duo is able to earn a living doing what they truly, madly, deeply seem to love.

In truth the show tonight provided perfect escapism and it certainly helped me forget the bullsh*t and bollocks of the daily grind. And to quote a friend who was fortunate to get a ticket to come along to the show with us tonight, “the show made me feel like a kid again.” He’s absolutely spot on, it definitely did that and more. I highly recommend that you take the time to escape the rigours of daily drudgery and lose yourself in this joyous, enchanting, amazing and astounding spectacle that is Carousel and Clothesline.

This thoroughly recommended spellbinding show, with its appealing cast, is well worth you juggling your other commitments to spend an evening with them while you can.

Presented by The Edge, Vague de Cirque’s Carousel and Clothesline plays at The Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, until 12 April. Details see The Edge

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