Friday, February 06, 2009

Saw Traces by Montreal-based circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main (The 7 Fingers of the Hand) at the Peacock Theatre tonight and it was utterly sublime. Part dance, part acrobatics, part clowning around, and done to a soundtrack ranging from jazz to indie to R&B to progressive house, it was a riveting show from beginning to end. I got tired and almost broke into a sweat just watching the first five minutes!

The cast consists of four men (Brad, Will, Raphael and Francisco) and one lady (Heloise) revealing little snippets of information about their personal lives. Francisco, for instance, likes cereal, and when he's feeling particularly naughty and indulgent, uses chocolate milk instead of regular milk, while Heloise, when she "was young, [she] was always falling out of bed" and then she fell in love, and so on. In between these, I guess, more intimate moments, they leap, twirl, fall, somersault, skateboard and play basketball, all in a semblance of everyday life.

One of the more engaging scenes, and definitely one in which the audience gets thoroughly into, is the one where the cast does all sorts of Chinese acrobatics on poles to Radiohead - Talk Show Host. It's a great song and a great piece, and everything just seems to go together so well. The entire six minute or so piece can be seen in this clip on YouTube (complete with audience reactions), and while it captures pretty much everything they did in tonight's show, it's a million times more incredible just seeing it live. They make climbing up the pole look so effortless, but I've tried to climb up a pole before, and I can tell you that you need a lot of upper-body strength for that.

Another more whimsical piece was the skateboard/tap-dance (skatetapping / tapskating?) scene set to Harold Arlen - It's Only a Paper Moon. In this item, Brad, Francisco, Will and Heloise just clown around in time to the music and it's just really cute to watch. They do tricks too, just not on the same scale as the pole piece.

The final piece is simply entitled Hoops and is a wonder to behold. Set to pounding techno beats (tm 2ManyDJs/Soulwax), the energy and vibrancy of this frenetic, urgent acrobatic piece is clearly felt. In this clip, as well as in tonight's performance, there were some mistakes made, which is only natural as not all somersaults can be perfect, particularly when props are included, but the way the cast handles them made me think that they actually intended for the mistakes to occur, just to remind the audience how difficult the flips they are doing really are. It just seemed so "gosh, yeah, I totally meant to do that" that I fell for it completely.

In short, I had a wonderful time tonight even though I was alone. It was just the thing I needed after all the crap I've been through, and it was well worth the £15.50 I paid (half-price utilising the What's On Stage promotional code). And as I left the theatre with a spring in my step, I smiled at Brad, Raphael and Will who were leaving the theatre in search of a well-deserved drink and went on my merry way home. The weather was surprisingly good despite the severe weather warning for tomorrow; the 40 minute walk home didn't feel chilly in the slightest!

Related Link: Traces trailer

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