The Peacock Theatre, under the umbrella of Sadler’s Wells, has energised London’s theatreland with a high-octane production from the Canadian-based company Machine de Cirque. Machine de Cirque captures physical and daring feats of dance, theatre, mime, comedy and music, all wrapped up in an entertaining circus format and festooned with high ropes, scaffolding bars, trapeze, ladders, trolleys and cycles.
The director and co-writer of the original idea, Vincent Dubé, is simply inspired, demonstrating an all-embracing sense of theatre, cabaret, vaudeville, and circus. No red noses here, no garish make-up or comical clothes: yet the essence of trickery and foolery, of energetic buffoonery with ludicrous antics, is captured with great skill and fun, enthralling the audience and certainly making the people near me gasp with delight.
A troupe of six tumble, juggle, spin, and flip their way through a range of scenarios with glee and panache. They entertain the audience with a range of vocal noises and snorts, along with grimaces or a simple raised eyebrow. This all helps convey a sense of fun, while imbuing the physical performances with a feeling of narrative – however crazy. Scenes swiftly move from one to another with acrobatic balancing, double back flips and pikes alongside dance moves that explore space and shape, floor and flight. At times performers appear attached to each while giving life to inanimate objects like bikes or towels, hoops or drapes. Perhaps the performers’ thrilling routine on the seesaw is a climax to the show but on balance, all of it is satisfyingly awesome. These circus artistes, Guillaume Larouche, Thibault Macé, Philippe Dupuis, Samuel Hollis and Laurent Racicot, will enthral you with their sense of creativity and imagination.
Special mention must be given to the technical team for a challenging design made seemingly easy to work on. In particular, the soundscape design by René Talbot impressively punctuates and shapes the action, giving focus and dramatic contrast to a range of scenes. When this is not in evidence, there is a live percussive performance onstage that brings verve and hilarity to proceedings, as the manic drummer (generously played by Frédéric Lebrasseur) echoes and disrupts the action to great comic effect.
Sadler’s Wells is on to a winner here with this thrilling show. The audience revel in the danger, skill and thrills of the comic antics, while simply enjoying the light-hearted and good-natured fun of it all. It really is a must see production: do yourself a favour now and catch it at the Peacock Theatre.
Written and directed by: Yohann Trépanier, Raphaël Dubé, Maxim Laurin, Ugo Dario & Frédéric Lebrasseur
Scenography advisors: Josée Bergeron-Proulx, Julie Lévesque & Amélie Trépanier
Costume Design by: Sébastien Dionne
Lighting Design by: Bruno Matte
Mechanical Engineering by: David St-Onge
Technical Direction by: Patrice Guertin
Machine De Cirque plays at Peacock Theatre until 11 June. Further information and bookings can be found here.