LEO: The Anti-Gravity Show

Christ's College Auditorium, Christchurch

11/01/2019 - 20/01/2019

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

13/03/2012 - 18/03/2012

Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

30/08/2013 - 01/09/2013

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

22/10/2015 - 24/10/2015

Baycourt - Addison Theatre, Tauranga

27/10/2015 - 28/10/2015

Carterton Events Centre, Wairarapa

17/10/2015 - 18/10/2015

Maidment Theatre, Auckland

19/03/2013 - 23/03/2013

Old Boy’s Theatre, Christ’s College, Christchurch

05/09/2013 - 08/09/2013

Tauranga Arts Festival 2015

Kokomai Creative Festival

Auckland Arts Festival 2013

Christchurch Arts Festival 2013

New Zealand International Arts Festival 2012

World Buskers Festival 2019 | BREAD & CIRCUS

Taranaki International Arts Festival 2013

Nelson Arts Festival 2015

Production Details

“Mind-bending, illusionistic and spellbinding… this show is destined for a great future.” The Edinburgh Reporter

Acrobat extraordinaire Tobias Wegner embarks on an intriguing, gravity-defying journey in Leo. Berlin-based Circle of Eleven produces extraordinary scenes and landscapes for the show, leaving the audience wondering which way is up and which way is down, as the rules of the physical world disappear.

Wegner inhabits this world, existing at a 90-degree angle to the rest of us. Defying gravity through an ingenious combination of stage design and video projection, he embarks on an adventure that is funny, witty and unexpected at every turn.

Captivating, moving and sometimes surreal, Leo is a triumph of skill and coordination. Leo premiered at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe, where it was a stand-out success, receiving glowing reviews and three awards, including a Three Weeks Editors Award and the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award.

The 2012 Downstage Solos include Circle of Eleven’s Leo, Royale Productions’ Frequently Asked Questions and Taki Rua’s Michael James Manaia.

Downstage Theatre
13 to 18 March
Tickets $53 – $58 available from Ticketek.

Downstage Members will receive Friends of the Festival discount for Leo by booking at any Ticketek agency or box office using their Downstage Members’ Society card. 

Maidment Theatre 
Tuesday 19 March – Saturday 23 March, 6.30pm
Sunday 24 March, 4pm
Duration 1hr 5min no interval
Price A Reserve $58 / Friend/Conc/Group $53/ Child $45
B Reserve $53 / Friend/Conc/Group $48/ Child $39
Bookings Book at THE EDGE: www.buytickets.co.nz / 09 357 3355 / 0800 289 842 
Group bookings: groups@the-edge.co.nz / 09 357 3354 
Book at Maidment Theatre: www.maidment.auckland.ac.nz / 09 308 2383 


Fri 30 Aug, 7.30pm
Sat 31 Aug, 2pm and 7.30pm
Sun 1 Sep, 7.30pm

WHERE:  Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace

DURATION:  65 minutes no interval

ADMISSION service fees apply
Premium $39
Premium Friend $35
A Reserve $35

Buy tickets now here

Presented by arrangement with Arts Projects Australia.

THU 5 SEP – SAT 7 SEP, 6.30pm
SUN 8 SEP, 3.00pm


Service fee applies


“Engaging and imaginative…. simply unmissable” – The List, UK

Booking information
Get your tickets now or call DASH TICKETS 0800 327 484
Selling Fast


What the reviewers have said: 
“Eye-teasing & grin-inducing” TIME OUT NEW YORK, USA
“It’s unusual to hear so many child-like gasps of sheer delighted astonishment in a theater.” THE VILLAGE VOICE, USA
“LEO is a brilliant one-man show, clever, playful and extremely funny.” BERLINER MORGENPOST, GERMANY
Brisbane Festival Review

The Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award
Three Weeks Editors Award
Scotsman Fringe First Award
Adelaide Critics Circle Award
Adelaide Fringe Award
The John Chattaway Innovation Award 

Carterton Events Centre, Holloway Street, Carterton 
Saturday, October 17, 2015, 7.00pm
Sunday, October 18, 2015, 4.00pm
Adult $38 / Child $25 / Adult Friend $34.50 / Child Friend $23 

Theatre Royal
Thurs 22-Fri 23, 7.30pm; Sat 24 Oct, 1pm & 7.30pm 
65 mins, no interval 
ADULT A Res $48, B Res $43 
UNDER 19 A Res $26, B Res $21
SPECIAL Dinner at The Vic Bar & Show $75
Plus TicketDirect Service Fee  

Baycourt, Addison Theatre
Tuesday 27th October, 06:00pm
Wednesday 28th October, 01:00pm & 06:00pm
TICKETS:  Adults $45 Student/Children $25  

Bread & Circus: World Buskers Festival 2019

LEO has dazzled audiences and critics from New York to Berlin, from Melbourne to Hong Kong with stops in Montréal, Moscow and London along the way. LEO is now touring in countries all around the world.

Assembly Hall – Christ’s College – Christchurch
11 – 20 Jan 2019
6pm except Sun 13 Jan at 5pm
Tickets $40, $30 Concession
Family (2 adult, 2 children): $110

Theatre , Solo , Physical , Family ,

1 hr 5 mins, no interval


Review by Tony Ryan 12th Jan 2019

WOW! What a jaw-dropping start to the 2019 World Buskers Festival in Christchurch last night. If the other acts are anywhere near as good as the two shows I see tonight, we’re in for something very special indeed.

First up for me is Leo: The Anti-Gravity Show, a one-man mime act that defies both expectations and belief. Anti-gravity is certainly the theme, but not a rope, string or wire plays any part in this very clever act. German performer Tobias Wegner and Canadian director Daniel Brière give us a truly original and mind-bending show that has us engaged, empathetic and challenged throughout its hour-long duration.

It’s difficult to say much without spoilers, and reading the promotional description in the festival brochure gives no clue to the core idea from which the show develops. Suffice to say that on one side of the stage we see the real man and on the other we see exactly the same projected from a different ‘perspective’. So convincing and confusing is the skill of the performer that, by the end of the show, what we see on one side of the stage is no less unbelievable than what we see on the other.

It all starts simply, with Leo sitting … er … standing against one side (in its widest sense) of a room containing just a single hanging light bulb. At first the movements are sparse and unhurried as we adjust to the extraordinary concept that confronts us. Audience reaction is similarly muted until momentum begins to build on the stage. Then laughter (there is so much warm-hearted humour in this show) and applause also increase as Leo explores the empty room.  Although the giggles of a little girl sitting near me are infectious, it’s also very much a show for adults as our eyes move from one side of the stage to the other, trying to work out how things are done.

But I start to wonder how the idea can be sustained for a full hour . . .

AND THEN . . . there’s his tie . . . and a bottle of water … and his hat …

AND THEN … he opens his little suitcase and there’s magical music … from hip-hop to Beethoven to ballet, and then Frank Sinatra’s I’ve Got the World on a String … and Leo’s light-footed dance moves …

AND THEN … within a minute-or-two, the room is ‘furnished’ with all manner of things … there’s a mishap …

AND THEN … water fills the room! The act on stage is becoming chaotic; the audience is becoming confused …

AND THEN … he exits through … well, who can say?



jj bogoievski January 15th, 2019



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A show of supreme intelligence

Review by Emily Mowbray-Marks 28th Oct 2015

I’m taking a dear friend to the theatre tonight. It’s 5.30pm, we’re wolfing down food, the kidlettes are tres animated amidst our rush to make this 6pm show. Husband is home. We rush down the driveway pretending we can’t hear the 5 year old’s plea to come too. I feel extra guilt cos I could’ve taken her instead of the friend. This will be a great show for children. Mother’s guilt smells the strongest.

We’ve got our seats. Yay, mine’s in the cross-aisle – it feels like business class. Note to self or more pertinently, the venue, hold the crisps. Pringles, extra crunchy, rattling in their foil/cardboard flute, are noisy in a noisy place let alone a silent theatre with a world class – do I need to say silent? – mime. Ban them, go on I dare you, crisps and any other sense of unnecessary indulgence. Let the theatre be enough.  What a bore I am…

I’m at Baycourt Theatre, Tauranga Arts Festival, for the opening night of Leo. Tomorrow [Wednesday] holds another ‘showing’ of this mind-screw of a show.

Where is it from? A guess – France. Someone trained at Le Coq perhaps? From the world of Monsieur Hulot and Charlie Chaplin, and his daughter (Victoria Chaplin) and her husband (Jean-Baptiste Thierree) who came nearly two decades ago to our capital with Le Cirque Invisible.

Can you sense I’m stalling the beginning… I’m a little disorientated.

This is a show about performance. It’s a knock-out. Who would like it? Anyone who loves dance, magic, physical prowess, trickery, suspension. It is a one man show – and I don’t want to give much away because it’s a mystery each of us deserves to solve.

It’s not a show that deserves space for acknowledging the lighting, the set. It’s a show that applauds the ‘constructor’, the performer, and the technical operator. This is a show of supreme intelligence.

The set-up (and I think I can tell you this without feeling like a spoil sport) goes like this:
1) a blank projector screen illuminated in an otherwise darkened stage
2) music (suited to my taste) begins, something akin with Black Seeds with a spoonful of more complexity. Reggae with excellent bass.
3) lights come up on a double bedroom sized box. One wall is red, another purple and is the third red also? I forget.

The first trick is where is the floor? This will make sense when you see it Wednesday night. Feel free to go buy your ticket now. I’ll wait. I’ll save your spot and you can come back after…

At the precise moment we see the filmed man in the three sided room, we see the live man from a different perspective in an identically coloured three sided room. Where is up? What is down? Is the filmed man being filmed live in the live man’s ‘cell’?

Why is this man here? He is waiting? While he waits we watch him kill time: gentle – silent in fact – amplifying the audience’s clearing of throats, tummy grumblings, Pringle-crunching and general self-consciousness. We then watch him dance, to fabulous music, including a filmic symphony showcasing my favourite, the cello, and a Frank Sinatra number; Sinatra’s lyrics flirting with this bizarre reality.

He then chalks on these now-revealed chalkboard walls, before this tedious existence twirls into mania and layers of animation spiral reality further into the surreal. And then there’s the end.

I feel myself getting suitably irritated as this actor /mime /mover’s movements became faster, more disturbed, frenetic and obsessed. The play has gone, in its place a desperation. In ways this chaos is a release, we can breathe and digest our food a little louder whilst the actor shows off all the tricks this reality has left.

It’s at this point that I’ll confess to wanting him to take his clothes off. Not entirely, just his shirt. I’ve had a bit of weekend of it (my sister’s husband’s cross fit champs, and my husband watching Ido Portal before bed one night). I’m imagining this INCREDIBLE mover’s moves would be intoxicating with his muscles out. The Nine Inch Nails like music isn’t helping my fantasy. Or is? Depending on the perspective.

He is magic. Did he conceive ‘this baby’? He must have. One would have to be solely responsible to sustain doing this extreme work out each night. It must be his ‘language’, his ‘love affair’. You’ll get it when you see it. This man has an inner child alive, and he’s allowing ours to giggle, squeezing a deep and bemused chortle out of the grandad in front of me.

You see, this man ‘f’s’ with gravity, with perception, and in order to do this his movement has to appear effortless even though we know is it not. The evidence is clear as he mops his wet brow with one red cotton handkerchief. He has to do a silly number of yoga postures such as half headstands. His movement must flow like a machine, a conveyor belt which stops only when all realities make it believable to.

What will be your favourite moment? The first time the hat is ‘played’? The legs in the sideways splits? The hanging?

What puzzle will you most wanna solve? For me? That lightbulb.

When Tauranga Arts Festival claims the world is coming to Tauranga they mean it with this show. This is a world class act.


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Simply mind-bending

Review by Trish Sullivan 24th Oct 2015

Leo essentially is a one man, physical mime performance. To the right of the stage we see a man, presumably Leo, performing unusual and sometimes quite acrobatic movements within two walls of a room. However, to the left of the stage we see a projection of that same man in that same room but from a different angle – the right way up … perhaps?

Toying with our perceptions of what is up or down, left or right, he carefully discovers you really can hang a hat on a flat wall, or lift both legs off the floor.  

The audience are transfixed. Child-like giggles ripple around the room at the simplest of actions. It seems we like being fooled.  A handstand on the right seems like he is lying on the floor on the left. We can see how it is done – it is right in front of our eyes. But surely, somehow, our minds are being tricked?  Totally mesmerizing.

Once the concept is secured, the action moves on to Leo dancing to various music styles that magically play from his suitcase – his only prop. A clever way to allow him to demonstrate more ways of moving around the space.

Next Leo discovers chalk to write on the walls. He draws furniture to sit on, a cat for company and a view from a window. As this scene unfolds, we have to keep reminding ourselves that the ‘real’ Leo is doing all this the other way up! With some simple video overlay and comedic work from Leo, the scene comes alive for us on the screen.

To end, we see perhaps the unravelling of Leo within these walls. The soundtrack is powerful, the physical performance becomes far more intense and our perceptions of the space are challenged once again. A little camera trickery gives us Leo moving around his own image – or perhaps trying to escape from it, which he cleverly, eventually does.

A couple of the sections might benefit from being just a minute shorter, but mostly the attention of the audience is unwavering.  I would have liked to have seen Leo’s room slightly raised on the stage so that the audience could see more of the amazing floor work.

For me, the most intriguing thing about this show is that such a simple concept can play such mind-bending tricks on us.  Post-show mutterings prove that for some the deception remains …


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Perfect mix of simplicity, humor and intrigue

Review by Adrian Renor 18th Oct 2015

A man is trapped in a room on his own with nothing but a suitcase when suddenly, the laws of gravity change.  

LEO, directed by Daniel Brière, is presented in a split stage. On one half of the stage there is a man in a room, and on the other half there is a giant screen, showing the live footage that is being taken of the performance. The actor is filmed and projected onto the screen in real time, but the image is rotated ninety degrees, so despite the actor appearing as though he is the right way up when you watch the screen, in reality, he is on the floor.

Some could argue that the hour long piece gets off to a slow start, but I disagree. The way the performer, William Bonnet, pays attention to every detail of his body captivates you as you begin to admire how the artist really perfects the illusions of gravity and then changes in it. When he wants to be seen resting against the wall on the screen, it isn’t just a matter of lying down on the floor. His back is curved, his head is off the ground and his arms are reaching for the wall, never resting for a moment. The amount of body awareness and precision is mind-blowing in itself.

Then the piece adds in more aspects. Music comes from the suitcase, chalk drawings create the furnishings of a house and animations begin to be projected on top of the live feed. All of these things are illusions; it’s almost as if it’s his mind that is being projected onto the screen but in reality, it is a man, alone in a room with a suitcase.

The creative team has found the perfect mix between simplicity, humor and intrigue. Again, it’s the detail that really makes you feel awe when you think on it. All of these technical elements mesh together without overshadowing Bonnet’s performance; it creates a beautiful and precise world for the story to be told in.

This show is for all ages and is so much more than you’d expect. It’s surreal and funny and in some parts it’s rather dark, but it’s such a well blended mix that the show establishes its own world.

LEO has detail down to an art that leaves the audience in awe. 


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The glorious anarchy of performance art

Review by Lindsay Clark 08th Sep 2013

By now happily into the swing of the Christchurch Arts Festival and with the collective appetite for adventurous stuff nicely primed, audiences experiencing this extraordinary piece of illusionist theatre are well served. For some it will raise the fascination of how the gravity-defying business is achieved, but for others, including myself, it is enough to let the magic have unreasoned momentum. 

We are faced with two versions of part of a box set, three walls and a floor. One is ‘real’ real and the other a live videoed transmission, reflecting the antics of the solo performer moment by moment, but with the solid colour blocks of wall and floor rearranged, so that in the filmed version, he appears to be defying gravity in a wonderfully choreographed, flow.

Sometimes there is sound or music (range to suit all tastes and tempos) and sometimes projection amplifies the feelings of dislocation and freedom we feel as the laws of physics seem no longer to apply to the agile figure before us.

There is just him and his case in the box affair. The progression of mimed ideas builds from his initial drowsiness and a sense of waiting, to unease as light and sound come into play. Then he discovers his ability to climb walls, hang in the airspace and even fly. There is a delighted sense of play morphing into the need for companionship – and lo, the back wall becomes an interactive apartment with cat and goldfish and two glasses of wine.

Projection comes into its own as the goldfish bowl tips and the space is flooded so that our hero, as he now seems, has underwater space and ocean dwellers to contend with, but as with the whole progression, the illusionary world can change at a note or a beat or a flicker of light.

The final sequence works to a frenzied pulse and even the relative ordinariness of walking on the wall blurs ,as multiple figures, reflections, dimly seen, fly about the space. Escape seems impossible until the last moment, when a final masterly illusion is found and inch by inch our man disappears.

The athleticism and timing of Performer Julian Schulz lift this event well out of the ‘clown with clever tricks’ range, into the glorious anarchy of performance art. For the time we are witnesses another dimension seems altogether possible.


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Review by Ngaire Riley 31st Aug 2013

We see a room. One wall is red, one wall is black and the floor is turquoise. Then we see two rooms. No, it is the same room but one view of it has been turned 90 degrees so the red wall is on the floor and the turquoise floor is a wall. And we see a man. No, we see two men. Wait, it is the same man in both rooms, but how is that possible?

The mind bending, gravity defying performance of Leo challenges our strongly grounded assumption that we always know which way is up. Don’t we? We are forced to interpret this “eye-teasing, grin-inducing, deeply impressive work of sustained absurdist magic” through imagery and performance which bewitches and beguiles our senses and sensibilities. 

A man is alone in a room. What drives that man? Is the aloneness or loneliness self-chosen or enforced?  Pinter frequently explores this state. In plays like The Room and The Dumb Waiter those in the room present a flawed bleak view of the world and are often menaced by something outside. But in Leo the exploration comes from the body and mind of the man in the room and his suitcase. The mood is light and whimsical throughout. There is no Pinter angst here. 

Tobias Wegner is the superbly skilled artist who appears to be lighter than air. He can literally climb walls. The same synchronised movements are played out, side by side, and our minds becomes as contorted as his body as we attempt to follow the distorted perspectives of the two views we have of him.

Just when we think this man has done all he can in the room, a new element is introduced from the suitcase – a piece of chalk, a bottle of water, a light – and the creativity of the man in the hat is off again. The suitcase also becomes the instrument for the final, how does he do it, vanishing act.

The concept for this performance is simple; the execution of it incredibly, impressively hard. Wegner’s body seems to pour and flex and leap its way around the rooms. This is far more than a mime show.

Thanks Taranaki Arts Festival for bringing this international act to New Plymouth. Leo plays next in the Christchurch Arts Festival from 5-8 September (sold out) then in Philadelphia from the 12 September. If you happen to be there, don’t miss it. It’s spell-binding.


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Review by Frances Morton 23rd Mar 2013

Every so often something happens in live theatre that flips your expectations and allows a crack of magic into real life. Leodoes this with stylish simplicity. It takes place on two levels simultaneously: Leo (actor Tobias Wegner) lies casually on the floor of a bare three-walled room. His only props are the classic mime tools, a suitcase and a fedora.

Across the stage we see his image repeated on a large screen, except the image is tilted 90 degrees so that – hey presto – lonely Leo is now sitting against a wall. [More]


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Organisers save one of the gems for last

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 21st Mar 2013

Emotionally gripping narrative, changes of mood take fans on whimsical fantasy. 

Now entering its final week, the AK Festival has been an outstanding success and for those who have been slow on the uptake the programmers have kept some of the best for last. 

Leo, created and performed by Tobias Wegner, demonstrates how a simple shift of perspective can generate a parallel dimension where the depressing omnipresence of gravity is triumphantly overthrown. [More]


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Simple devices create rich illusions

Review by Raewyn Whyte 20th Mar 2013

LEO is a marvelous production that makes no attempt to disguise the illusory mechanisms on which it relies, yet seduces you within a minute or so into its doppelganger worlds which coexist at 90 degrees to each other, with a great deal of the seduction due to the marvelous performance by the agile, physically adept Tobias Wegner.

Wegner inhabits both worlds, being physically present in a room which the audience see to the right, and virtually present (via live feed and spatial re-mapping) in the room which the audience sees to the left. Both rooms have a red side wall and a blue floor, a black back wall, and a dangling lightbulb which flickers and flares. As the show opens, the man in the left hand room (the projection), which is rotated 90 degrees clockwise relative to the live room, appears to be standing in the middle of the floor, leaning against the wall; whereas we can also see (in the live room) that he is actually lying on the floor with his feet up the wall and the light jutting out horizontally.

The man is wearing a shirt and tie, waistcoat, trousers, shoes, and a hat, and carries an attaché case. The room is not large – it looks like it might be a smallish living room, or a large lobby. There’s a sense of confinement, and the man seems to be waiting for someone or some event.

While he waits, he restlessly inhabits every nook and cranny of the room and every surface within reach. He plays with his hat, taking it on and off and wearing it in various ways.  His tie develops a seemingly magnetic attraction to the blue wall, and he eventually takes it off and leaves it at the base of the wall. Then his hat is drawn to the blue wall also, and then his attaché case… 

He finds a stick of chalk in his case, and embellishes the black wall with a table and two chairs, wine glasses and a bottle of wine, a shelf holding a radio and goldfish in a bowl. The light bulb gains other lights to become a mini-chandelier, and at the base of the wall by the table, a cat sprawls. And then ….

As your attention shifts to and fro, you find a preference for one perspective or the other. Even though the projected/left hand room has a normal orientation of floor and ceiling, I find the right hand room often more compelling – so much so that I almost miss it when the left hand world gains a whole lot more layers (video design by Heiko Kalmbach and animations by Ingo Panke) and that whole world becomes increasingly un-real. 

Rather than give the rest away – for it is a truly charming show and really worth seeing for yourself, I will note that the attaché case is a source of light and music, and that the ending is utterly appropriate given everything that goes before.  The pace is beautifully controlled (direction is by Daniel Briere), and a flow of evolving situations keeps the action moving forwards. There’s some marvelous moments, lots to laugh at, plenty to entrance you, and some unexpected surprises to add to your delight.  

Thank you Auckland Arts Festival.


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Gravity turned on its side to challenge our perceptions of reality

Review by John Smythe 14th Mar 2012

Back in 2000 there was a Stab show at Bats called AAARGH! –The Live Movies – involving the likes of Bret McKenzie, Jemaine Clement and Taika Cohen (better known now as Taika Waititi). One of their many tricks was to use a vertically mounted bed to create the illusion of levitation, using live video cameras. Someone stood against the bed then stepped forward and it looked as if he was levitating. Leo begins with the same idea …

Performer Tobias Wegner and director Daniel Brière, of Berlin-based Circle of Eleven – who brought us Soap – the show last year – probably never saw that show but their Leo may owe something to the famous Fred Astaire film sequence here where he dances up the wall and across the ceiling (in Royal Wedding – singing a love song: ‘You’re All The World to Me’). The camera is locked off with the floor at the bottom of frame and the room physically turns to change the centre of gravity. That is total illusion because we only see the end result and I think they probably snipped a few frames out at the transition points to enhance the illusion.

Leo, like AAARGH!, exposes the ‘illusion’ for all to see. As we sit in the theatre there is a boxed-in room to our right with a blue floor, a red side wall and a black back wall. And to our left there is a large white screen. Lights fade to black, there is music and when the lights come up there – on the screen – is a projection of what is in the room: a man with a briefcase, waiting. He’s wearing a hat, shirt, tie, waist-coat trousers, shoes … And on the screen he is standing on the red floor, leaning against the blue wall … waiting …

On screen the room is turned 90 degrees. In the ‘live action room, we see the man, Leo (Tobias Wegner) lying on the blue floor with his feet on the red wall to our right, and a bare light bulb jutting out horizontally on a wire from our left. On screen he looks as if he is standing on a red floor against a blue wall and the light is hanging downwards from above. And because that’s the version that makes more sense to us, because that’s the one that looks ‘normal’, that’s the one we’re drawn to. 

So: a man in a room, waiting … And very gradually he becomes aware the blue wall is acting like a magnet. He untucks his tie, it’s tip goes to the wall. He takes off his hat – it’s sucked on to the wall. It’s all very disorientating. And, quite literally, it drives him up the wall. 

His briefcase is a sort of music box, by the way, which lights up and releases music when he opens it. Having climbed the walls, pulled himself up by the bootstraps, ballooned his cheeks to ‘float’, flapped his arms to ‘fly’ – and walked on his hands ‘up the wall’, which takes real acrobatic skill – he uses chalk to create a nice domestic scene for himself on the black back wall: chair, table, a goldfish in a bowl, a parrot on the window sill … Then a bottle of wine and a glass, a candle, a second chair and glass. And at last we’re getting some emotional content – a sense of loneliness, here. His magic briefcase produces a saxophone on which he plays a poignant tune …

Apparently this Leo character has a low alcohol threshold because one glass of wine sends him off into an increasingly surreal hallucinatory experience where – thanks to additional video design (Heiko Kalmbach) and animations (Ingo Panke) – he finds himself swimming for his life and being attacked by his household objects.  If we look at Tobias in the live action space, he’s just flailing about on the floor but on the screen, Leo is coping with a life-threatening situation.

In the final phase he returns to the bare room and explores some walking and running illusions which are not entirely successful, first because we can tell he’s running on the spot, and mainly because there is no narrative purpose or emotional driver behind the action.  If the idea is he’s getting nowhere fast, it doesn’t really come off, because we are all too willing to suspend our disbelief and accept he is travelling, somewhere … Which in turn works against the idea of his being trapped in this room.

But there is the fascination of ghostly after-images – and sometimes images that foreshadow his next move – not to mention his own image becoming spookily translucent …  All that is interesting in and of itself, for those who like to ponder whether the effects are is being created ‘live’ or are pre-recorded.

And so we progress towards his exit and here again I feel a stronger emotional driver, a desperate need to escape, would improve the story and distract us from the ingenious being used to technology used to achieve what is nevertheless a brilliant exit strategy involving his briefcase. 

So yes, it’s very clever, very ingenious, and – as with all good comedy – I feel it could be more entertaining if Leo’s emotional states were explored in greater depth. That said, as a show that turns gravity on its side and challenges our perceptions of reality, it’s a great contribution to the NZ International Arts Festival.  


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Seeing and fleeing the world from two very different angles

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 14th Mar 2012

The setting for German theatre company Circle of Eleven’s Leo is a room with a red wall and blue floor, which solo performer Tobias Wegner appears trapped in with no way of escape no matter what type extraordinary acrobatic type feats he attempts in order to get out.

But that is only part of the show.  On the other side of the stage is a huge screen onto which is projected an image of Wegner’s room.  The only difference being that it has been rotated clockwise through 90 degrees so that the red wall becomes the floor and the blue floor becomes the wall. 

As a consequence when Wegner lies on the floor, on the screen he is seen to be standing up leaning against the wall.

Based on an idea by Wegner which he developed under the direction of Daniel Briere, it is one of the most creative and original productions seen at this year’s Festival.

To go into detail would spoil much of the shows enjoyment; suffice to say the Wegner is an incredible performer who tirelessly moves from one contortion to another without missing a beat. 

And it is not just the physical actions that he goes through but a whole gambit of emotions like confusion, frustration, desperation and finally relief that adds substance to his performance.

Just when one piece appears to be getting repetitive the show moves direction although the ending does appear to over extend itself.  And the uniqueness of the production is seeing the actions of Wegner in the room translated onto the screen totally differently, often hilariously and often appearing to defy gravity. 

To assist him he has a suitcase of props and musical accompaniment which provides some of the highlights of the show; dancing up the wall to Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve Got the World on a String” and swimming through an ocean of sea life to Tchaikovsky’s “SwanLake”.  And a piece of chalk creates a magical world for his totally awe inspiring finale.

He finally makes his way out of the room as uniquely as he moves through the rest of the show, making this a great piece of innovative entertainment. 


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