A group of highly – no, ridiculously – talented circus performers from Quebec are in London. But they’re not Cirque du Soleil (though one of them used to be in Cirque), it’s not January, and this show, Catch Me! (Attrape-Moi), isn’t at the Royal Albert Hall. What can Flip FabriQue (pronounced ‘fab-reek’ rather than ‘fab-ree- kay’) offer that would impress this cultured central London opening night crowd at the Underbelly Festival 2017? Quite a lot, as it happens. For this production’s beauty is in its sheer simplicity, and a palpable sense that this is a well-drilled company that may appear to come very, very close to calamity in their routines – gasps from the audience were very much in evidence – but were always going to come out triumphant, and in one piece.
The very occasional slip ups were so negligible that if anything, they only helped to reinforce that everything in this show is happening for real, with no special effects or mechanical aids to assist in creating such a spectacle as this. The opening scene wastes no time in getting down to business – there’s no attempt by Jérémie Arsenault, Camila Comin, Hugo Quellet Côté, Bruno Gagnon, Christopher Hamel and Yann LeBlanc (Comin being the only female) to break the audience in gently as the choreography almost immediately goes into full flow. And why not hit the ground running? It’s a momentum that is sustained throughout, though not, mercifully, relentlessly: there are softer moments too, allowing breathing space for both audience and performers. There’s elegance as well as energy, subtlety as well as sparkle.
The scene changes, particularly the ones in the first half, are delightful and are themselves worth paying attention to. During the scenes themselves, there is sometimes a lot to see going on at once. In case anyone has a query about the best vantage point, as with Cirque du Soleil, or indeed going to the pictures, sitting at or near the back provides a better view of proceedings as opposed to front row seats.
There’s humour to be enjoyed in this production, though not all of it has universal appeal – a ‘competition’ which I won’t say much about, as I don’t want to give too much away, had as many people in the audience express reservations as there were those, myself included, who happily enjoyed watching proceedings unfold in the way in which they did. At the time of writing, there’s a General Election campaign going on in Britain, and Flip FabriQue do more spinning than all of the main political parties combined. The whole thing left me exhilarated (another reviewer said they felt exhausted: I concede it may well be energy-sapping for some).
A lot is packed into this single act production, including incredibly inventive uses of hula hoops, aerial straps and what are known as ‘diabolos’. Later, the full company create extraordinary feats with huge red balls, to the tune of ‘Copacabana’, played in full, including the fade out. (You may, if you wish, consider yourselves warned.) But the jewel in the crown is the final scene, apparently called ‘Trampowall’, in which a huge trampoline is placed on stage and used to accomplish the most mesmerising jumps, to the top of what is meant to be the roof of a cottage. It is a considerable distance!
But that’s not all. A touch of the performer-musician comes to the fore in one scene, and some credible beatboxing to be enjoyed (or endured, depending on one’s disposition towards that kind of music). The synopsis in the show’s programme is not one I would have drawn out from the performance. That is, however, a relatively insignificant point. In the end, this is a hugely enjoyable and entertaining production, scaling the heights of escapist entertainment in more ways than one.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Twirling hoops, daring diabolos, and acrobats soaring through the air – all in a day’s play for Flip FabriQue, the exciting new faces of Canadian circus.
High flying, fearless, and fantastic fun, Catch Me is the circus sensation that has astounded audiences around the world with adrenaline pumping feats of extreme acrobatics, dramatic turns on a trampoline, and inventive parkour.
This incredible display of athleticism and showmanship for the whole family makes its London premiere.
‘A must see!’ Huffington Post
‘Acts that don’t seem humanly possible’ New York Times
‘An adrenaline-injected hour of acrobatics and dance’ ★★★★ The List
‘This is absolute world class circus craft. An utterly phenomenal show.’ ★★★★★ Edinburgh Guide
CATCH ME (ATTRAPE-MOI)
Booking Period: 17 May – 9 July 2017