If only all inner city landscapes were as packed with excitement, energy and emotion as those in Cirque Éloize’s iD.
It would be a pleasure to stroll through the vast grey concrete jungle if at every other step you were wowed with a feat that drew a gasp of astonishment.
This is the world – part fantasy, part inner city grime – created by the Canadian circus company for its latest show, with the help of designer Robert Massicotte who brings a Gorillaz-esque graphic novel style to the projections on a multi-level set that hides a bouncy surprise.
In this world, urban dance walks hand in hand – or hand on hand, hand on head, or any other combination of balance points you care to combine – with circus and acrobatics. From a simmering sexy opening number in which a dancing couple vie for supremacy in a new relationship, the bond is clear.
Movement to a graffiti-covered Neverland complete with breakdancing Lost Boys brings a display of Chinese Pole virtuosity counterbalanced by a sweet, fun-filled duet between a B-Boy and a contortionist.
Director Jeannot Painchaud paces the production perfectly. No act lingers longer than necessary, though each has time to explore its mini story, be it one of gang animosity played out with skipping ropes or love wrapped up in silks.
Less traditional feats crop up in this down town world, with cyclist Thibout Philippe – he’s clearly passed his cycling proficiency but could do with swotting up on road safety, as one member of the audience finds out – and inline skater Jon Larrucea making a wheely big impact on the evening.
While the second half might not have the head-shakingly mystifying moments of the first, it does build to a joyous finale with more ups and downs than a Downton Abbey box set in a lift. It is the more classic circus performances that really relieve you of your breath, those who find the most emotion before slapping you in the face with a trick that shouldn’t be possible.
There, I guess, is the reason iD is more than spectacular. Its characters have soul, so their danger feels that much more perilous.