L’étoffe des songes | Blog Théâtre d’Emma4 October 2018
Cirque Plume - La dernière saison: Ending on a high note
Don’t go if you don’t like:
Successions of circus acts
Hands playing with the moon, a showering of dried leaves, a tree branch in a night sky: It doesn’t take much to awaken the imagination, especially when music is involved. From 1984 to today, Cirque Plume has traveled the roads of France and elsewhere with a new type of circus, without animals, in which physical performance is embedded into poetic scenes. They have constantly renewed their art and have paved the way for others. The time has come for them to take their final bow, in a final show honoring all the others. This Dernière saison provokes laughs and dreams in a jungle of the imagination, all with an extraordinary collective. It offers a veritable live concert, with Benoit Schick and his band letting loose with some fascinating jazz blues. A family moment not to be missed.
First there is the big top, grand and beautiful, with stands that require an exercise in "human warmth" to make room for everyone to sit. The circus tradition is present, even if its practice has been renewed. The show begins with dried leaves raining down nostalgically, quickly interrupted by the usual troublemakers. At Plume, interludes are ripe with clowning, often animated by Pierre Kudlak and a few friends while the set is changed behind the curtains. Summersault competitions, muscle contests, a settling of scores between Père Fouettard and Santa Claus: Laughter comes naturally to the smallest just as much as to the most grown-up.
The scenes are created with few things: a tree branch, the moon, costumes. Plume takes the time to set the scene before launching its acrobats into the wildest adventures. Among the memorable acts: the contortionist on slippery skis who cannot get up, a Chinese pole used to reach for the moon, a spirited funambulist who passes from one wire to another with ardor, a magic trapeze-ring act in the opening, a man who dances with feathers... There are physical demonstrations, but they are enhanced by the show’s structure; they serve to tell a story — essentially, a dream.
The great strength of this dernière saison lies also in its music, which carries the ensemble with rhythm. The six artists from the orchestra are unleashed onto the stage. Benoit Schick moves from piano to accordion to singing with total commitment, his creaky voice deeply affecting. The musicians’ presence on stage is in unison with the physical performance of the acrobats and with the interplay of the clowns: bellies become drums, musicians are also circus artists and are integrated into the acts.
Unlike shows like Plic Ploc or l’Atelier du Peintre, La dernière saison has no thematic narrative thread, yet the acts are linked with great fluidity. The umbrellas of the final scene are reminiscent of Plic Ploc, and the show is undoubtedly dotted with references to past productions. Throughout the acts, the bare tree branch is gradually adorned with flowers, white and then red, like a renewal, far from the initial nostalgia of fallen leaves. The final applause was emotionally charged. The audience praised a unique style reconciling performance, laughter, and beauty. What a beautiful journey for these cirque nouveau pioneers: a life true to their spirit, full of meaning, and one that will have marked many audiences! Hats off to the artists.
Cirque Plume, La dernière saison at l’Espace chapiteau de La Villette, from September 26 to December 30, 2018.