Kat of the Musicals

Le Noir was pretty cool, although it really takes a lot for me to find these circus act shows impressive. Maybe I’ve seen too many and the stunts (although really incredible displays of human capability) get a little repetitive? I guess the standout in this case was that the performances are reallyyyy close.

Originally posted on The AU Review.

From the sexy innocence of white, through the seductive risqué of red, and on to the adrenaline-fueled darkness of black, is the journey Le Noir takes us on. It is the “dark side of Cirque” and its surreal journey is filled with characters that are no less as intriguing, athletic and risk seeking as you would expect to find in any cirque performance.

We are guided through this journey by our Master Of Ceremonies (Salvador Salangsang), who keeps the energy moving through acts and engages the audience in several small skits. He also demonstrates on more than one occasion his own prowess as a dancer and performer, which is refreshing from the standard “clown of the show” that he could have easily become.

The most unique aspect of this particular circus performance is apparent as soon as you enter the theatre- everything is just so CLOSE. The stage is comparatively small, with just a single runway and circular elevated platform, surrounded by tables and layered seating for the audience. It is this level of intimacy and closeness that really sets Le Noir apart- where normally the danger is so distant as to feel somewhat safe, here it is right in front of you and you are very keenly aware of it’s presence. It certainly gives you a far greater appreciation (and a far greater nervousness) for the acts!

As Producer Simon Painter explains “The original concept behind Le Noir was to take the very best of the best cirque performers in the world and rather than create a production in a huge auditorium or arena, produce an intimate style show where the audience is literally inches from the action on stage”

A few highlights amongst these performances- The Duo Silk (Dasha Shelest & Vadym Pankevych) who perform the most beautiful choreography with such beauty and gracefulness; the Skaters (Jeronimo Ernesto & Queenslander Jessica Ritchie) whose heart-pounding speed on such a small stage makes you imagine with dread her flying and slamming into the surrounding audience members; the Aerial Cradle (Emilie Fournier & Alexandre Lane) with their utter skill and trust that leaves you gaping at each catch; and the Wheel of Death (Carlos Macias & Angelo Rodriguez) which is just insanity plain and simple, and almost leaves you silently pleading with them to stop with the craziness.

These last two acts were particularly mesmerizing for the level of obvious risk and danger that you are witnessing so very close. You are sitting there close enough to see their faces as the leap into the free air and you’re sinking deeper into your seat in dread, and then they BLINDFOLD themselves and you think- insane, you’re utterly insane. But they’re there and it’s all happening right in front of you.

All the performers are no less than the most incredible athletes- their abilities have pushed the limits of human flexibility, strength and partnership. The dark sexiness of the costumes means that in most cases the performers are wearing very little- which in turn means that you truly are able to see each and every one of their very defined muscles hard at work.

The music builds and ebs in tune with each unique performance, and an onstage music master allows for the perfect control of sound for the act. In some cases music is paused or restarted, just at the right moments, which gives it all again much higher sense of realness. The lighting design is incredible and highlights darkness and colour through the smoke to give perfect setting and atmosphere.

As the door opens to admit the performers for one last round of appreciation before slamming shut again to blackness you’re left feeling very much in awe and somewhat drained as all the sexiness and the utter insanity sinks in. And then you find yourself muttering into the dark, “I need to go to the gym”.

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