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Traces (Tour - Milton Keynes)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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Les 7 Doigts de la Main, which translates as the 7 fingers of the hand, is a twist on the French idiom ‘The five fingers of the hand’, used to describe distinctness and unity in one body. Here it describes a company of circus artists, founded in Montreal in 2002, who bring together a range of different disciplines: dance, gymnastics, music, aerial acrobatics, physical comedy and interactive video projection to create a dazzlingly inventive show.

It is a show designed to expand our expectations of the circus: at once breathtakingly risky and curiously low-key, the performers skateboard into their manoevres, or throw baseballs to each other, mixing up the rhythms, keeping the audience constantly alert to the next innovation.

The musical score is equally diverse, mixing antique harmonies with the spoken word, jazz with nostalgic musical numbers, unnerving electric sound-strobes with folk guitar. A classical ‘grand’ piano, dressed in pieces of card and timber and played in turn by each performer, and a swinging microphone which blurs the performers voices into stripes of musical colour provide a couple of examples of the creative inventiveness of this troupe.

From the first moment when we are irreverently invited to leave on our mobile phones, and take as many flash photographs as we wish without regard for the sdafety of the performers, this is a show which charms & captivates, enthrals, excites, inspires, and genuinely takes the breath away with its incomparable savoir-faire.

Traces combines high level circus skills with a raw, urban street energy. It also honours a wide range of theatrical magic from shadow puppetry to Hollywood, from Chinese State Circus to slalem rollerskating. The show is warm with personality and charisma, full of wit and tenderness: intimate moments of confessional and revealing fragments of memory or insight segue into incredibly versatile acrobatics. Live drawings form a spontaneous animated backdrop, the props for the pieces are wistfully simple but put to extraordinarily complex use: chairs, baseballs, ropes and mattresses provide the most unlikely of springboards and supports for these fleet moments of awe-inspiring magic.

Simply superb. A circus for the 21st century.

- Claire Steele


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