La Provence
4 May 2002

Plume circus’ salutary "Récréation"

Ariane Allard

Pioneer of the new contemporary circus, Plume is celebrating its 18th anniversary in Marseille. A thrilling, splendid stop-over that has almost sold out. Hurry up… until 12 May!


It’s like a crescendo since they are musicians; an ascent since they are acrobats; a high-C since they are singers; a firework display since they are magicians. It’s a big top full to bursting point, an euphoria that lifts us up and carries us off on a rare flight. There’s gratitude too. It’s an image, of course, but it has to be said that this is a circus like no other: Plume - "Feather" in English - because at the beginning, 18 years ago, it was tiny, light as a feather, though today it’s a heavy weight in the revival of nomadic, performing art. And then, above all, in Marseille until 12 May we have its prettily entitled show: Récréation that looks back over 18 years of turns, music, lighting, fragrances and emotions - just that. At first, there’s a little wariness. Perhaps it’s just copy and paste, a rather overdone anthology. Normal! These women and men, this troupe who, if they couldn’t change the world, didn’t wish to be changed by it, have got us used to the crazy best, to what is perilous, clever, marvellous. The best of the best, to sum it up. And then in the darkness of rather rudimentary installations (you can come with a cushion if you like…) you plunge very quickly into this irresistible bubble of childhood. You’re back in the time when you have the right to sing as you clean your teeth (a technique also described as gargling in G). The time when shadow shows on a darkened white sheet increase ten fold the little biceps of a chatterbox dancer. When a nonchalant musician rides a flying double bass, to the great displeasure of his peers who are much too down to earth! Like Harry Potter (and much before him), Plume delights the really young (ah, those peels of laughter in the big top)o* and chasses away the wrinkles of real-false grown-ups. Its audience, won over, is tenderly reactive, in warm complicity. Are these the joyful notes of Erik Satie or the Beatles? Are these the swanlike contortions of a dancer apparently made of rubber? Are these the visual brainwaves that transform each turn into a baroque scene? Are these the artists’ mini testimonies that punctuate but never bore? To hear "my work is to play at pretending but for real" confirms the ampleness and fluidity of a show that is surprisingly coherent, despite its presentation, a priori, like a leisurely review, verging on laziness. Let’s say an amused jumble. Plume’s Récréation , mid-way between cabaret, circus, dance and concert, finally makes a clean sweep of all the bad ideas. At that moment, and even all the time, you could also call it poetry.