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article imageReview: ‘Cirkopolis’ splashes a grey world with imagination and colour Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 3, 2017 in Entertainment
‘Cirkopolis’ is a spectacularly entertaining show that earns audience’s applause with an expressive combination of performance, music and video projections.
Conformity is the enemy of creativity, but unity is a symbol of strength. They can sometimes be confused, though the latter accomplishes wonderful things where the former suffocates them. To be completely synchronized with a partner or group of people requires absolute trust, precision and coordination. The results are displays of skill and beauty that are spellbinding and entertaining. Using a combination of acrobatics, theatrics and dance, Cirque Éloize’s Cirkopolis dramatizes the conflict between industry and imagination.
The show opens on the scene of a man toiling at his desk in a large warehouse. Every time he makes a dent in the stack of paperwork on his table, one of the many well-dressed automatons passing by replenishes it with the ding of a bell. There is a literal and figurative push and pull between the man at the desk and all those moving past him. His attempts to be creative are scorned as much as his place in their hierarchy. But it’s also obvious they are no more than cogs in the giant machine pictured in the background, moving to the rhythm of the industrial soundtrack.
The costumes and sets are monochromatic with splashes of colour, such as the men’s vibrant neckties and the women’s bright spring-colour dresses. These subtle expressions of individuality are heightened by their mesmerizing performances and feats of physical strength. One of the show’s most striking sequences occurs in the second act when a woman dances with a large steel ring — a cyr wheel — spinning towards the ground to the tune of a lovely, haunting melody. Later a group of players perform similarly complicated feats with a German wheel, which they leap through, roll within and ride on.
High-flying pieces include a man doing an uneven bars routine in the air on a single apparatus — a plus cube — and three women performing together on a trapeze swing as they are lifted into the air holding onto nothing but each other. A couple climbs a two-storey Chinese pole without any tools but their hands and feet, and in another sequence a woman tumbles through the air, supported only by a loose rope suspended from the ceiling.
Yet one of the most enjoyable but less physically-demanding acts features the designated clown flirting with a woman’s dress and scarf hung from a clothing rack. The scene is incredibly charming and humorous, as it often appears these inanimate objects are genuinely reacting to or interacting with him. It’s a lovely complement to all of the physicality of the other performances. And the entire show is set to a wonderful, original score with some songs reminiscent of the Goo Goo Dolls and another that could’ve been a Nine Inch Nails tune.
Cirkopolis is playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto from March 1 to 18. More information and tickets are available on the Sony Centre website.
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