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Le Cirque Invisible

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Big-scale circus has so dominated for so long, it’s easy to forget the charms of smaller events. A show like Le Cirque Invisible is the pole opposite of the entertainment juggernaut that is Cirque de Soleil. For a start, there are only two performers, with what look home-made props and costumes they’ve put together themselves from oddments they found in the attic. There are no fancy acrobatics, no whiz-bang tumbling, no musicians, just two seasoned performers with impeccable credentials.

Victoria Chaplin is the daughter of Charlie and her husband Jean-Baptiste Thierree is one of the innovators of French circus. They’ve been working together for more than 30 years in a style best described as gentle whimsy. In turn they take the stage which is plain and bare of sets. He specializes in comedy standards with a surreal twist, such as glass tricks and rabbits in hats, only he performs with such charm you see the old jokes with fresh eyes. He also treats the real-life rabbits and ducks with kind respect, meaning you don’t mind animals on stage (these are usually a complete no-no).

Chaplin meanwhile does what you'd call whole-body morphing – she completely disguises herself with parasols and drapery turning herself into an 18th century Duchess, a fish, a table, and various unidentifiable beasts. Chaplin also walks the high wire and rides a uni-cycle – not bad considering she must be over 60.

The show’s highlight of many too numerous to mention is Chaplin wearing all manner of kitchenware – glass jars on her head, colanders at her waist, tin pots on her knees – and coaxing from them the sweetest of tunes. She’s hinting, I think, at domestic harmony and it is lovely to watch.

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