In three decades of existence, Cirque Plume has revolutionised the circus scene as practiced for centuries, doing away with convention, usage and stock characters. So much so that they have become a benchmark throughout France and even Europe. Their multiple tours have enjoyed both critical success and public devotion. Paradoxically for a city where street arts are so alive, Cirque Plume rarely comes to Marseille.
So their current appearance at Le Silo, where they have set up their musical instruments and acrobatic equipment until Wednesday 11th November, is genuinely a special event. It has created a real buzz throughout the region, with some fans even booking their seats months ago.
For the opening on Saturday, the atmosphere in the theatre was both festive and full of expectation. An awe-struck audience gathered with children, students, culture-vultures, rockers and the like. In short, a live audience in the image of the diversity and madness of Cirque Plume itself. On stage, it was very much like a concert; sometimes a brass band version with marching musicians, at other times just a backdrop.
The sounds of the dance hall, the tavern and the jazz club rang out; reminiscent of the always perplexing vocal pirouettes of an Albert Marcoeur, once nicknamed the French Frank Zappa, or the lively enthusiasm of an Arthur H. There was also some contemporary dance, with a few free-moving set pieces that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Benjamin Millepied production, like the aptly named opening scene Tempus Fugit?
Within this effervescent pandemonium, there was still room for some old-school circus turns: rolls and somersaults, rope acts, tight-rope walking and hula hooping, all perfectly executed and accomplished very simply, without showing off but often with a dollop of humour. The whole show is presented with a touching magic, exuding poetry in motion, offering surprising beauty in such impressive acts as the flying musician. And indicates that if the future is not what it used to be, passing time still keeps its questions to itself.