Le Cirque Invisible

27 August 2009, Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Usually by the time I get my act together and post a review, the run of the show is over.

But ha ha! 😀 This time, my review comes at a time where it can actually influence whether or not you want to go see the show. But this isn’t because I’m organized this time round, it’s because I watched this last year and due to its sold-out run, Southbank have brought it back (ends next week). So it doesn’t matter that I’m a year late. And even more, it doesn’t matter because the show will be absolutely the same. Apparently Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée and Victoria Chaplin (yup Charlie Chaplin’s daughter) have been doing this same exact show for the past decade. No changes whatsoever. It’s great though, because I really liked seeing what I would classify as old-school magic. Where what happens on stage doesn’t have to be a huge spectacle or particularly polished for you to appreciate simple illusions. It’s almost as if it was a window into magic of the 19…50s?

This husband and wife duo are a great match on stage. Together they present a show about illusion and magic – stretching your imagination and showing you how you can find magic and beauty in everyday life. They could not be further apart on the spectrum of performance. Jean-Baptiste did laugh-out-loud skits that at times were so ridiculous and ludicrous, yet so simple, that they were really funny (especially paired with his huge round eyes), whilst Victoria Chaplin did sensuously beautiful stunts and costume-changes. One moment she would be hanging upside down from a tightrope, the next moment she’d be changing within seconds from a seahorse to a shrimp to a strange underwater animal just by folding and unfolding bits and pieces of costumes. It worked really well in enthralling the audience that was a mix of adults and children – moments of shared joy were particularly enhanced because different age groups would laugh or would ooh and ahh at different things.

I guess the only negative thing one can say about this show is that there is no narrative at all – it really is many sequences stringed together. But I didn’t mind it at all.

It’s pretty amazing that even though I watched this a year ago, I can still vividly remember quite a lot of it – props to the performers! I loved the Jean-Louis magic rabbit box, Jean-Baptiste’s ridiculous costumes and blending into backdrops, Victoria Chaplin’s mesmerising dream-like costumes and sequences. She’s really had a huge influence on her son (James Thiérrée). I can see the resemblance in styles. But this is also probably because she helps with designing his sets and costumes too. And you know what’s particularly amazing about her? She’s 59 and still so incredibly flexible!

Anyway, for a fun light-hearted night out, go see them! (Though I hear that Jean Baptiste is quite a character off-stage…)


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