Cirkopolis | Cirque Eloize

Canada’s Cirque Eloize is modern circus at its best: young, innovative and funky.

The company’s history spans more than 25 years and its ninth production, Cirkopolis, is no exception to its repertoire of fascinating works. Loosely based on the 1927 German futuristic film Metropolis, the show takes modern storytelling to a new level combining theatre, dance, circus performance and digital projection to fine effect.

Under the superb guidance of co-directors Jeannot Painchaud and Dave St-Pierre, buildings tower in copper colours and sunlight dazzles above a utopian cityscape. However, despite the shiny gauze, there is a dark underbelly causing ripples of discontent among exploited workers forced to toil away with mounting stacks of paper under glaring lights.

A huge AV screen takes us into this 3D reality and during the course of almost 90 minutes, rebellion brews, love gently stirs (with a coat hanger, of course) and ultimately, authority and power are challenged with a dramatic flourish.

In this world, the marvels of human flexibility and stamina seem endless. Alexie Maheu and Antonin Wicky are breathtaking as they perform feat after feat on the Chinese pole; Selene Ballesteros-Minguer is both a stunning trapeze artist and an unnervingly flexible contortionist, while New Zealander Rosita Hendry gives a poignant performance on the cyr wheel.

Flamboyant juggling is thrilling to watch and the skills of Jeremy Vitupier, Aaron Dewitt, Frederic Lemieux-Cormier and Colin Andre-Heriaud on the German wheel and teeterboard leave the audience gasping in delight — after all who doesn’t want to fly through the air? Arata Urawa also deserves special mention for his expert handling of the diabolo (similar to a yo-yo) that consists of spinning two cups using a string attached to two batons.

Stefan Boucher’s music and Nicolas Descoteaux’s lighting are also exceptionally aligned, but it is the humour woven throughout the drama that makes this circus decidedly special. Ashley Carr is a standout, subtly combining elements of pantomime, clowning and narration and holding the work together in both a cohesive and endearing fashion.