Archive for August 11th, 2010

Mini-review – Le Cirque Invisible – Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre

August 11, 2010

Tempted by an invite from Amy and a juicy two for one offer in the Independent (good through August 13th), last night I found myself at Queen Elizabeth hall for the first week of Le Cirque Invisible. I literally knew nothing about them other than what I’d seen on the poster and the fact that it said “circus,” but I figured for £15 I was likely to enjoy myself and after three weeks of almost nothing but ballet I was due a bit of a break.

As it turns out this two person show was delightful in the intimate environs of the Queen Elizabeth hall; I could frequently (due to my seat being on the far right) see the details well enough to answer the question of “how did he/she do that?” but I decided that I would actively avoid analyzing what was going on to figure out the secrets of the magic tricks and costume changes, and just relax and enjoy the panoply of visual stimulation. What I saw was two people, a frizzy haired man I imagined as Morpheus meets Andy Warhol via the medium of your crazy uncle (Jean-Baptiste Thierrée); he mostly did magic tricks, but they were much more funny than magical; he seemed aware as much as I was that he was doing sleight of hand, and made a joke of what he was doing rather than acting mysterious and all-powerful. He also made visual puns and played a lot with people’s anticipation of what they would see next; he also joked at himself by showing things he MIGHT do and then not doing them.

Victoria Chaplin, a lovely, slim woman with long brown hair, did mostly a series of transformations, in which the costumes she came onto stage slowly became something else; a parasol she carried became a Japanese warrior; another parasol creature turned into a strange insect that flirted with another of its kind; a dress she was wearing ate her and then evolved into a walking version of its former self. My favorite moment was her whirling in front of a projection that caught on the giant wings she was waving in the air; it was like a moment out of a movie from the early teens, and I was fascinated with the play of color and fabric. She did two other things that were more obviously technically complex, but this one moment was just unedited beauty, and I was ready to just absorb it.

One thing I did not see much of was traditional circus acts; there was almost no juggling, little acrobatics, and just a tiny bit of tight rope walking. There was, however, a bit of magic with bunnies and birds (including ducks); it’s been so long since I’ve seen an animal of any sort on stage that I was actually kind of surprised. But they all seemed happy, and the bunnies were adorable.

In short, I found this an excellent evening at a very good price. Apparently under 16s are free through the run, and for anyone with kids to entertain this month, Le Cirque Invisible is a real lifesaver. It’s not a high powered circus like Les Sept Doigts de la Main, but I found its City of Lost Children style and humor very enjoyable.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Tuesday, Augst 17th, 2010. The shows continue through Wednesday 25 August 20th.)