Le Noir - The Dark Side of Cirque [image supplied]
Le Noir – The Dark Side of Cirque [image supplied]
World Class Circus Up Close and Personal.

What is it about the circus that is so universally loved? Is it the nostalgia of childhood, the visual smorgasbord of acts that keeps us engaged, or the range of emotions one gets to experience, including joy and pathos from the clowning segments, awe and amazement from acts of flexibility and skill, or anxiety and fear from acts like The Wheel of Death? Le Noir has all that and even added sensuality and titillation into the mix with their sexy costumes and adult concept – ‘The Dark Side of Cirque’.

What is unique about this show is the intimate 360-degree seating in a theatre rather than a big-top, with cabaret seating sharing the stage with the performers. This is a circus where you get to experience the sweat and the emotion of the artists up close.

With over twenty of the best circus performers across the globe, many having competed as athletes or gymnasts previously, the acts are truly world-class.

Favourites include Sabrina Aganier from Quebec, whose Hoop act in the opening is the best I have seen to date. Not just for the choreography, but her incredible flexibility, making the various body postures throughout even more extraordinary and beautifying.

Le Noir - The Dark Side of Cirque [image supplied]
Le Noir – The Dark Side of Cirque [image supplied]
The very buff Stong Men Valeri Lyubchev and Yani Kostov, both from Bulgaria were entrancing to watch. Not only very skilled, a little eye-candy never hurts.

Chilly and Fly’s unique human flying trapeze act showed an incredible amount of trust in their partnership. The addition of characterisation and a simple thematic story arc added a layer of sensuality, taking circus performance to a new level (as did all the acts). But the most impacting part was when for the first time in the show, there was total silence for the blindfolded segment. Hearing nothing but the heavy breaths of the supporting partner as audio cues for the blindfolded tricks was exhilarating.

Sal Salvador as the Master of Ceremonies clown didn’t just rev up the crowd and help segway between acts; his mini-segments were highlights in themselves. Thoroughly engaging, the balloon trick was especially chuckle worthy.

And what’s a circus without death-defying acts? The finale of the show culminated in two dare-devils Angelo Rodriguez and Carlos Macias, braving the Colombian Wheel of Death, all for the sake of entertainment. It was like watching a horror film play out in front of my eyes. There should be a warning for audience members with high blood pressure for this one!

Interestingly, the question was raised, not by me, but my niece (the junior critic)… “Is there a rating on the show?” Miss 10 thought the costuming was a little inappropriate for children, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying the show. She liked the Hoop act, the Roller Skating act (Jessica Ritchie from Queensland and Jeronimo Garcia from Mexico), and the Master of Ceremonies (aka, the clown) as “they were the most tame and least scary.” In fact she loved the show so much, she had tears in her eyes because, “I was just so happy.”

Le Noir - The Dark Side of Cirque [image supplied]
Le Noir – The Dark Side of Cirque [image supplied]
I will have to admit, I also had a few tears at one stage because of the shear beauty of the imagery. Also, as a creative artist, I was filled with awe for Simon Painter who not only imagines these uniquely stunning forms of world class entertainment (including The Illusionists and The Naked Magicians), but has the courage to put himself on the line to bring his works of art to the world on such a massive scale. If an artist thinks about that for just a little, they too would be awe-inspired, and a touch envious of this man’s chutzpah. Of course credit and kudos must also go to director Tim Lawson who takes Simon’s creative brain and puts it on-stage in such a polished and profound way.

This show is so visually spectacular and breathtaking, it did make me day-dream about taking up gymnastics again so I could run away with this eclectic circus troupe of gypsies. But then my second thought was how rigorous the constant training and dieting would be, and I quickly came to the conclusion that being an appreciative audience member while snacking on my Cadbury chocolate suited my lifestyle far better.

Le Noir – The Dark Side of Cirque will be playing at QPAC’s Lyric Theatre until August 17.

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