In Roman times there were ‘Two things only the people anxiously desire – bread and circuses.’, well time has moved on and you can get your own bread but if you want a really magical taste of Circus then get yourself along to the Peacock Theatre for The 7 Fingers production “Traces”. Now, I’ve said before that I am not a particular fan of circuses per se but “Traces” is a truly fantastic show combining traditional acrobatics, a bit of juggling, skateboarding, basketball and contemporary dance in a two hour spectacle that has the audience either holding their breath or cheering loudly.
It all starts in a tarpaulin space where seven people have met to escape whatever it is that is going on outside. Slightly disconcertingly, there is a massive screen on the stage transmitting pictures from the ‘outside’ – in reality the stalls bar – which is all meant to be part of an over-arcing narrative to the performance. To be honest, the ‘story’ such as it is really isn’t needed because the performance is so mesmerising in its own right. After a blazing opening segment with people and bodies flying all over the place, the performers (Kevin Beverley, Lucas Boutin, Anne-Marie Godin, Kai Johnson-Peady, Yann LeBLanc Harley McLeish and Emmeng Song) all introduce themselves via a microphone flown in from the roof. I have called them performers as it is wrong to just call them acrobats as they do so much more. Play piano, dance, play guitar, sing, draw intricate pictures – as well as perform astounding feats of acrobatics. It’s a long time since I’ve seen so many multi-talented performers on one stage. The whole show is amazingly energetic and moves at a pace so fast that it is sometimes hard to keep up with everything that is going on. There are also slower moments though, such as the balletic romantic dance between Anne-Marie and Harley which demonstrates the way that acrobatics and modern dance can be combined to produce a piece of sheer elegance and beauty.
The first act passed by in a flash and I was really surprised that nearly an hour had gone by as I popped out for a snifter at half time. The second act started with Anne-Marie experiencing a problem familiar to readers the world over. How do you find a comfortable reading position on a big sloppy armchair? She tried various positions both of herself and the chair – all of which led me to think that this was a real ‘don’t try this at home kids’ moment – until she got the one she wanted. This was of the real strengths of the show. Each performer got a chance to, for want of a better word, show-off. From Yann totally dominating the stage with his massive Cyr Wheel to Emmeng wowing the audience with some deft Diabolo work everyone had their moment. By the way, make sure you get a programme as, apart from some amazing pictures there is a short history of circuses and also a glossary of terms.
Highlights of the show? Way too many to mention. From Hand-to-Hand, through the Dance Trapeze and the Chinese Pole every second of the performance had my eyes transfixed on the stage. Every aspect of the show was perfectly directed and choreographed by Shann Carroll and Gypsy Snider and the performers worked superbly together, the trust and affection between them obvious to see as they created two hours of spellbinding entertainment that defied imagination.
Review by Terry Eastham
The 7 Fingers
The Peacock Theatre, WC2
Tuesday 9 June – Sunday 12 July
Performances: Tue – Sat at 7.30pm, Sat Mat at 2.30pm, Sun at 2pm & 6pm
The 7 Fingers – Traces – Sadler’s Wells
Hailing from Québec, renowned as the home of the modern circus discipline, The 7 Fingers (Les 7 Doigts de la Main) is one of the world’s most inventive contemporary circus companies. After success with its previous show Sequence 8, the company returns to the Peacock Theatre with the critically acclaimed TRACES from Tuesday 9 June – Sunday 12 July 2015.
In TRACES, the cast combines traditional acrobatic forms with street elements, mixed with theatre and contemporary dance. The show takes place in a make-shift shelter, an unknown catastrophe waiting outside the doors of tarp and gaffer tape. In the face of an impending disaster they have determined that creation is the only antidote to destruction. Performance skills include tumbling through hoops, scaling Chinese poles and balancing seemingly effortlessly on each other’s heads, to basketball, skateboarding and playing classical piano. In a poetic, humorous and thoughtful form, and with the use of film clips, narration and a range of music from rock ‘n’ roll to blues and hip hop, TRACES redefines the art of circus.
First performed in 2006, TRACES has gone on to be performed over 1700 times in 23 countries. The show has featured as a part of The Royal Variety Performance, played at the Union Square Theater in New York for a year and has won multiple awards.
Founded in Montreal in 2002, The 7 Fingers began as artists on stage and soon branched out, expanding their creative talents as directors, choreographers, writers and coaches, passing on their collaborative and unique 7 Fingers process to a new generation of circus artists. The company name Les 7 Doigts de la Main, translates to the 7 Fingers of the Hand – a twist on a French idiom the five fingers of the hand used to describe distinct parts united tightly, moving in coordination towards one common goal. For the company, it refers to their 7 founding directors, Isabelle Chassé, Shana Carroll, Patrick Léonard, Faon Shane, Gypsy Snider, Sébastien Soldevila and Samuel Tétreault who, by combining their distinct talents and experiences, work towards their common artistic goals with the beautifully awkward dexterity of a 7-fingered hand.
Thursday 11th June 2015