01/03/2010 - 08/03/2010
High flying Swedish Circus is a Magical World on a Knife’s Edge
“CIRKUS CIRKÖR IS A MUST SEE. Before you read any further, call and book tickets” – Evening Standard
Sweden’s Cirkus Cirkör brings its hit show, The TV3 Season of Inside out, to the New Zealand International Arts Festival with jaw-dropping athletics and playful magical storytelling that is all about the human heart and “something as simple as life.”
Cirkus Cirkör has grown from an underground movement to a big circus ensemble touring the world.
Inside out explores inside and outside our bodies taking audiences on a mind-blowing journey with trapeze, mime, clowning, spectacular acrobatics, magic, and illusion.
Cirkus Cirkör has collaborated with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, one of Europe’s largest medical universities, to blend scientific knowledge with its creative world in an entertaining way. Indie rock darlings Irya’s Playground perform live on stage.
“Combining the romance of the old-fashioned circus with a rocky edge, Inside out is a must see. Full of pace, spectacular routines and wonderfully gorgeous images, this Swedish cult circus dares us to step out of our own safe lives, take risks and run-away with them!” says Lissa Twomey, Artistic Director of the New Zealand International Arts Festival.
Inside out opened in Sweden last year and is now on tour with premieres at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, the Next Wave Festival in New York, and in Stockholm in December before its Australasian premiere at the New Zealand International Arts Festival in March.
In 2002, Cirkus Cirkör was commissioned to provide entertainment at the magnificent Nobel banquet at Stockholm City Hall. Cirkus Cirkör has a dedicated education programme that includes open training for professional artists as well as children and amateurs, a programme for families, and a three year high school programme.
Cirkus Cirkör’s Inside out is sponsored by TV3.
WHEN: 1-2 and 4-8 March
WHERE: Opera House
“Breezes along on a wave of infectious energy… a fresh flip through the circus skills book” Metro, UK
“The most gorgeous concoction, a perfect blend of contemporary and traditional circus… the result knocks you sideways… the production is an unerring delight.” The Stage, UK
1hr 50min, incl. interval
Delightful new twists on old tricks
Review by Jennifer Shennan 07th Mar 2010
The day we all said “No more animals in the circus” was a great day for world theatre. No more caged animals, so 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 practice 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 Greypower, to watch you perform your best new trick. You might have to get them to bang a drum and sing a song as your backing vocals, but these things are not beyond the reach of anyone, unless you think they are.
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 and flying through in 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, (“Sweden’s alternative rock darlings”) have a great thing going and all the songs, by remarkable vocalist Irya Gmeyner, are as impressive as her ott glamourous dress-ups.
The circus’ 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.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Review by John Smythe 02nd Mar 2010
‘Gloriously abandoned’ and ‘organised chaos’ are the phrases that spring to mind when seeking to describe Cirkus Cirkör’s ebullient Inside Out. Only when you stop and think do you realise it has to be ultra organised or someone would get hurt.
Aurally powered by indie rock band Irya’s Playground – Irya Gmeyner (vocals) and Pange Öberg (bass), who compose and write the songs and music, with Erik Nilsson (drums) and David Calgaro (guitar) – its packed two hours (plus interval) is dynamically paced and structured to give as much value to stillness, silence and tension as to action, noise and cathartic release.
In white face, suit, shoes and top-hat, the clownish ringmaster Bellefield (acrobat Fefe Deijfen) races about the auditorium as the audience arrives, burning up his apparently boundless energy, which may be why the lights fail just at he tries to announce the start of the show proper. Fortunately a bicycle-powered dynamo is at hand and a lucky audience member gets to pedal us all into the brilliance that follows.
Beware of popping out to the loo mid-show or you might find yourself of stage too, as one woman does … It takes a re-read of the programme note at interval – “Two people trapped in their own definition of safety and success find their lives turned upside down when they encounter a circus company of charming and bizarre characters” – to will get how Cirkus Cirkör (concept and direction: Tilde Bjorförs) have made the extraordinary connect with the ordinary. And you realise once more that nothing is as random as it seems.
Early on Bellefield does a chair-balancing routine that I’ve seen other troupes reserved as their climactic act, and he almost comes a cropper when it turns out our entranced man has stopped peddling. If just one component fails … We’re all together in this enterprise.
Angela Wand’s caged clown, Julia P, was once the best tightrope walker in the world. Now she has grown a beard and very hairy legs and is frocked in ballerina’s tulle and shod in toe-shoes. When they let her out she generally makes a nuisance of herself, en-pointe with her red-rope lasso, training her little rocking horse … Happily she gets to fly on her rocker rather than off it.
Her sudden inconvenient death is a challenge to Bellefield but levity soon follows … It’s refreshing to see a woman clown; her stroppy idiosyncrasies make her very endearing. Her walk down a line of champagne bottles is particularly memorable.
Meanwhile Bellefield has asked the be-suited, middle class and proper Amy* (Anna Lagerkvist), “Can it be you have stopped living even though you are not dead?” This causes her to look not so much into her heart as at it. Held in her hand it is big, which is probably a good sign. It’s even larger later when she hauls it onstage, or a cross-sectioned half of it, anyway …
Billed as a clown as well as an acrobat, she is very introspective and given to fainting. She seems to be having a good cogitate about something when she shins up a pole, entwines herself around it and drops head-first, stopping centimetres from the floor. Variations on that theme render my thoughts more practical than existential: how does she brake before she breaks?
Huge projections of endless journeys through human innards emphasise the ‘inside’ part of the title (projections: Magnus Fyrhake). Stretch fabric tubing is used to spectacular effect to manifest red and white corpuscles and other vital parts (set and costume design: Sigyn Stenqvist; abstract costume and sculptural construction: Lina B Frank; lighting design: Jenny Larsson).
Trapeze and aerial artists Mirja Jauhiainen and Sanna Copra are introduced as strong-women mother-and-daughter Ivana and Carolina. Their trapeze routine is a stunning display of strength, trust and impeccable timing, accompanied by Irya’s rousing song: “We just want to stay alive …” Exactly. And they want to know it, too.
Andreas Falk, as Charlie Claude, does wondrous things with – and within – a large hoop. He too has great strength and puts Amy through his hoop at one point. It’s a conspiracy: complacency is not an option.
Even if you’ve seen one busker too many and feel jaded about juggling, I promise you’ll be delighted at Jay Gilligan’s routine – as Pom-Pom – with clubs, balls and hoops. This, like many acts centred around a particular skill, becomes a spectacular display of ensemble work, not least including Erik Nilsson drumming manically and vocalising hysterically, in both senses of the word.
In the role of Tom – the other person ‘trapped in safety’, who truly does look like a fish out of water most of the night – Jens Engman turns out to have exceptional skills as a handstand equilibrist.
There is a huge white balloon that spawns small balloons, a forbidding looking closet for a disappearing/appearing illusion, magic with little bits of red fabric, and an extraordinary sequence involving white balls and a double helix against a projection of furiously changing columns of coded genetic ‘text’ as the singer reminds us “We can be whatever we want to be …” (if only we could control all that).
The finale involves a see-saw, and what the ensemble achieves with that has to be seen to be believed. The audience roars their collective delight at the curtain calls, as Irya tells us “You don’t have to stay all day” – and we spill into a brimming foyer, animated and abuzz.
It’s always a challenge for circus troupes to create new concepts in which to slip the tricks they take years to perfect. Cirkus Cirkör turns our notions of life and fear of death Inside Out, using their skills, music, rigorous technology and spectacular projections to play with us, each other and our lives.
Lest we think all these crazy characters are just having escapist fun, consider this from Tilde Bjorförs’ programme note: “Watching someone performing a feat that requires absolute presence of mind is like seeing someone truly being themselves. In these situations, you cannot pretend.”
In a word: exhilarating.
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*She’s called Saga in the programme but Amy on the night.
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Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer