Circus: La Galerie, Assembly Rooms - Music Hall * * * *
Making its UK debut, Canada’s Machine de Cirque company is a cut above the rest – in location at least.
Set in an art gallery, the show opens with an dig at visual art pomposity, as the performers shuffle around the stage exclaiming “Ahh” at the works on display (even when they don’t ‘get it’). The elastic ropes used to hold queues in place mark out the space, but when you’re this agile, jumping between them is a breeze.
So too is bouncing breathtakingly on a bendable beam – the kind of routine you almost want to watch between your fingers in case it goes wrong. Some of the other acrobatic routines are ones which you can see in many other circus shows, but it’s when one performer punches a hole in the gallery wall and climbs through, that things really liven up.
Finding herself inside a painting reminiscent of a Renaissance banquet (albeit with popcorn as the feast – leading to a genuinely witty running gag), she’s joined by the rest of the team in costume. As the impressive acrobatics and sharp juggling continue, the lack of posturing and posing feels welcome. This is not a group looking to the audience for constant claps and adulation (although they regularly get it), they’re too busy making art.
Fearless and funny, without a hint of dumbing down, La Galerie is a breath of fresh air.KELLY APTERUntil 25 August