Alternative rock darlings

The Dominion Post
Inside Out, Cirkus Cirkor
Opera House until March 8
Reviewed by Jennifer Shennan

The day we all said “No more animals in the circus” was a great day for world theatre. Acrobats, clowns, trapeze artists, jugglers, musicians and illusionists were obliged to find new ways of carrying on old tricks.

The time-honoured circus skills survived, but nowadays theme, emotion, friendship and script are choreographed to achieve theatrical impact and dynamic atmosphere as well as little pockets of poetry.

In the case of Cirkus Cirkor from Sweden – literally “a circus with heart” – their delightful performance grows endearingly life-affirming throughout the two-hour-long show.

These zany, bubbly creatures think audience members with low self-esteem are just lonely, and they have tricks galore you could practise for hours – at the end of which time you’d have forgotten whatever it was that troubled you, and you could invite over the kids next door, or your friends at Grey Power, to watch you perform your best new trick.

There are several large and splendid backcloths, the first of which is the favourite page from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook, with sections of a heart, and a tiny foetus in a womb.

The work of that genius artist and scientist from early Renaissance Italy is again evoked with the image of a man standing astride a circle, in breathtaking sequences of turning in and flying through a spinning hoop of gold, delivered with great grace and superb balance by Andreas Falk.

Jay Gilligan, the juggler, delivers equally gravity-defying wonders, as indeed do the trapeze aerialists Sanna Kopra and Miku. Angela Wand is a cross-gendered clown with a loopy love of disappearing tricks, who can also walk in pointe shoes along the tops of champagne bottles. Anna Lagervist is a pole dancer of stunning skills (and we all thought she was an innocent dragged in as audience participation). Jens Engman had circus in his blood from an early age and it shows. Fredrik Deijfen is an acrobat, clown and the ringmaster extraordinaire of the night, with a costume get-up to match. (Hold on to your children’s hands or they might follow this fellow’s enticements to go up on stage, and that could be the last time you see them.)

The dance sequences, lighting effects and set design are all faultless and fabulous.

The quintet of musicians, Irya’s Playground “alternative rock darlings”, have a great thing going and all the songs, by remarkable vocalist Irya Gmeyner, are as impressive as her OTT glamorous dress-ups.

The circus’s founding director, Tilde Bjorfors, is a very clever young woman indeed, making running away to join the circus a most attractive prospect. You’ll have to practise heaps first, though.