07 July 2013

Face Whatever Direction You Want!

Four men and a mat, with seating on all four sides. That’s what it took to keep us entertained this evening in the second of our six shows at the Festival Montréal Complètement Cirque. And so far, we are two wins for two.

This form of circus is often called “hand to hand” and this show gave us that, plus hand to shoulder, foot to ankle and everything in between. The four artists took us through a range of themes that looked like a lot of children’s games that we remember from our own youths — follow the leader, blind man’s bluff, red rover — all with their own circus twists, of course. There was also a lot of one-upmanship that you might expect with a bunch of boys playing together.

What I really like about this show and how the artists explain it in the program is that it is never about an individual, always about the individual interacting with others. Each of the series of hugs became a struggle for supremacy, culminating in the very amusing attempt of one to kiss the other on the mouth as they struggles, locked in each other’s’ embrace. If you were trying to find fault, you might characterize the second guy’s resistance as homophobic, but I’m not going to see that here: it was a funny tussle and, in the end, there was a big kiss on the lips, just the sort of thing a boy might do to win such a struggle.

Without apparatus, apart from the mat, it is amazing that we still got those moments of danger that so characterize the best of circus acts. We are drawn in with the artists as they try to form and arch and then broaden its base as much as possible. And then they try and try again, and we are all still with them in their effort. We marvel at the game of carefully crawling over the others to move forward, only to be crawled over in turn, and we gasp and applaud at the leaps from one artist’s back to another’s, with increasing distances to cover.

A little taste?

This show is playing at the Gare Dalhousie for two more nights (7 and 8 July) and then, according to the company’s website, in November in Annemasse, France. If you’re in Montréal, run out to see them while you can, and sit right up front for the best views.

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