March 03, 2015
With Circus Month in full swing, Sternberg Clarke popped along to see Cirkopolis, the latest show from Cirque Éloize at Sadler's Wells Theatre.
Based on the 1927 film ‘Metropolis’, Cirkopolis is the latest offering from Montreal-based Nouveau Cirque company Cirque Éloize. Set in a futuristic urban dystopia, the 90 minute performance takes place in front of large scale projections of city skylines, factory chimneys and machinery.
The performance opens with the protagonist clown alone at a desk surrounded by paperwork. Gradually he is joined by the rest of the cast, playing the drone workforce in 1940s style drab grey suits performing a synchronised robotic dance routine, symbolising the monotony of work life. One by one the different disciplines take centre stage including Banquine, German Wheel, Juggling, Cyr Wheel and impressive aerial routines on straps and Chinese pole. Once given the opportunity to express themselves through movement each performer is then transformed with splashes of colour adorning their worker clothing.
Overall, the choreography was slick and polished and the circus skills demonstrated throughout were consistently outstanding, with many of the cast demonstrating almost superhuman levels of multi-disciplined performance. Particularly impressive was the Banquine, the German Wheel featuring 6 men who used the apparatus almost as a cyr wheel and the synchronised juggling routine featuring the full cast.
The production itself unfortunately let the show down, the costumes lacked imagination and the set projections felt clunky and unnecessary, akin to a dated Windows screensaver which often detracted from the incredible circus routines. The lack of narrative wasn't an issue thanks to the skills of the performers but when an inkling of plot was displayed, the love triangle on the Chinese pole and the lonely clown, it seemed strange that they weren't actually relevant to the story and instead of being expanded, led nowhere. Additionally, the message and overall theme was a little obvious and disappointing that it didn't delve deeper.
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By Sarah Thorniley-Walker