Whilst we settle in and wait for the show to begin, there on stage before us is ’Las Meninas’ by Velasquez with, in the corner, the picture with its back to us. That is where the show is located, wedged between the two, a picture within a picture.
"Open your eyes and look at the world, make it dance!". Pierre urges the accordionist to see ’an echo of the beauty of the world’ inside the artist’s studio. Nothing more! And the show keeps that promise.
From the gallery to the studio, it takes the audience to the limits of illusion and truth. Of course, we expect light and shade from Plume, giving the scenes that unexpected feeling of being infinite.
Of course, Plume laughs at the world, heartily, as the alternative would be to cry. In the scene with the mischievous characters, Pedro and Oui-Oui, or the gallery buyer, or the statue and a talkative painter, and the odalisque who leaves her bed and starts to dance, just like the statue. Hand to hand with desire, to stay or go, notes on glass projected by shadows accompany the langorous encounter, the fragility of the moment. Time hangs in the balance, just like some of the performers. Because you can fly at the circus, as high as your dreams, catch the moon, to find the woman in the picture. Grace and strength. Plume never forgets that it’s a circus.
There’s the incredible whirlwind of the young girl inside the wheel (Kristina Dniprenko). She spins, on the edge, going in one direction and the other, she moves forward, and then stops, a tiny cog in a gigantic machine.
Then there are the aerial straps and Antoine Nicaud, with the young man climbing to dizzy heights where he can grasp hold of dreams, the hallucinations so essential for poets, his desires, and the life to which he aspires. He struggles. And falls asleep.
Plume shows the inspiration and hardships suffered by an artist: modern art is written on a canvas, like stains, in order to make money. Sketches on stage, puns and laughter; Robert and Pierre call out to each other and reflect on life in the world of Cirque Plume. Because there is a world to see inside and outside of the frames. Look at the frames, where the high-wire acrobat ventures out to dine solo. Colours come and go; rain makes the cherry trees bloom. Plume has the gift of making shade luminous. It juggles with lights, just as Oui-oui taps his juggling balls on the floor whilst on the other side of the stage they multiply in the mirror, leaping about to the sound of music close by, that of Robert Miny, the maestro.
Bodies dance too, they trampoline up in the air and bounce back. Laura Smith is like a chrysalis in her gown of brown and gold, as light as a feather. The dancer amidst red petals flies up in the air, and I tell you she really flies, her gown flowing out behind her, following the movement and executing its own wonderful arabesques. Nadia Genez has created the costumes for the performers, in the soft shades of a summer storm. They bring a clarity and elegance to the characters and form a community of strolling players. To be oneself, or to be somebody else, that’s the dilemma of the costume. Masks are used to blur identity and roles still further, with comic confusion and mistaken identity not only being a part of what’s happening on stage but also confronting us with our own identities.