Le Cirque dans l’Univers
29 August 2005

Circus and Paradise

Concerning Cirque Plume’s latest show : "Plic Ploc"

Dominique Mauclair

Le Cirque et le paradis | Le cirque dans l'univers (presse_plicploc) {JPEG}One of the clowns evokes a relationship between circus and paradise. I found this analogy fitting because during the entire show, I floated between the sky and the clouds.

"Plic Ploc" is a pure gem!
As usual, Bernard Kudlak has chosen a simple idea: after Toiles (the shadow theme) No Animo mas anima (animal taming without animals) L’harmonie est-elle municipale? (meeting of 2 cultures),Bernard took a water droplet as a theme, one that goes drip drop?
Water is very much in style in circus right now. In "O", Cirque du Soleil reconstructs an ocean, and in "Nomade", Eloize brought on a thunderstorm that disturbed the country fair. Plume is content with a drop of water, a raindrop or a leaky plumbing drip that can transform itself into a geyser.
As usual, Plume’s director relies on Robert Miny, one of the most talented musicians of New Circus, a leader that knows how to give his music a certain colour by mixing his sources of inspiration and taking advantage of the versatility of his musicians to vary his harmonies.
But Bernard also knows how to have confidence in a young, enthusiastic, and dynamic troupe, entirely rejuvenated aside from Pierre Kudlak, circus’ old guard from Franche-Comté. One thing that’s new is that "Plic Ploc" is a furiously technical show, as if Plume had wanted to single handedly challenge Cirque du Soleil’s enormous machine to a duel.
Where is paradise, you ask? I saw it in the lightness of an elfin trapezist that floated in the clouds, in Adam and Eve wearing flippers, ready for the next deluge, in a young snake charmer, in the angles that seemed to come right out of a Wim Wenders film and in the seraphim that planted poppies (or clown noses) in the milky way. During the entire show, the audience and I were with the angels.
Certain desolate spirits will say, "Where is the circus in all of that?" It is in paradise, dear God!

"Plic Ploc"
a shower of stars...

Bernard Kudlak, the man behind the scenes, also the director, set designer, and artistic director, makes the phrase "as dull as dishwater" seem inaccurate. He offers us a show put together by an alchemist who knows how to distill using dexterity, tenderness, beauty, poetry and prowess. It is a show that has the ability to light up a grey sky, to smile at our differences, to put away the flavourless and lack-luster. It is a show that has the charm, the freedom, the seriousness, and the imagination found in fables and children’s games.
A little over 20 years ago, Cirque Plume was born in Franche-Comté in Besançon. Its first show was a revelation. Plume is currently playing in the Espace Chapiteau in La Villette park in Paris with "Plic Ploc", its eighth creation that has already toured France, Portugal, Holland and Belgium, before it hits the road again in France next year.

Only water, only water...
As the spectators are entering the big-top, before the show has even started, an insidious drip of water coming from the rigging is infiltrating the stage. A rag, it seems, will do the job. Not quite, it seems a receptacle is needed, first a small one, then a bigger one... The leak appears to be repaired. Other leaks, however, spurt from the ceiling, the floor, from everywhere.
Bernard Kudlak has imagined, with his team of artists, musicians and technicians, a show of controlled catastrophe where water is the stimulating element that favours the birth of ideas and surprising images. The water that drips into a pot destined to contain the leak makes a sound that resembles a note. Using many pots and pans of different sizes you get all sorts of notes. With many notes, you get music!

Surprising images.

In the disorganized order, the images, the discoveries follow one after another, full of beauty, poetry, humour, and slapstick: a flowering field of metronomes, juggling with water jets or soap bubbles, a hand coming out of a tuba holding a rose, water enveloping the stage is pushed back with squeegies thereby drawing a heart reflected on a veil, at the centre of which two performers kiss... It amazes, surprises, touches and delights.