Artistik Rézo
28 September 2018

Cirque Plume’s La dernière saison: An Indian Summer Perfume

Cirque Plume, "La dernière saison" : Un parfum d'été indien | Artistik Rézo (presse_lds) {PDF}

Acrobats, slapstick performers, dancers, singers, and musicians: fine weather the whole way through! Cirque Plume’s farewell show is presented with the splendor of a true final bouquet. We already knew how ravishing Plume’s signature touch is, and here, Benoit Schick’s music makes “La dernière saison” a total delight.

When taking a final bow, one had better leave some beautiful memories. Hence, in announcing its “farewell show” and its “dernière saison,” Cirque Plume took some risks. But it assumes these with brio. “La dernière saison” (“The Last Season”) is likely to extend into an Indian summer, with a tour already booked through the end of October 2019. At La Villette, remaining places are scare, even with the show playing through December 30.

Since Cirque Plume’s inception in the early 1980s, Bernard Kudlak, its artistic director, has always defended the poetic note of its shows — works full of humanity, humor and sweetness. With " La dernière saison", he concludes a major chapter in the story of art under the big top. And it is with its own big top that the troupe has moved into La Villette, a theatre-tent where we see a proscenium-style show, like in a theatre, all the while soaking up an atmosphere of circus.

A tribute to man as animal

“La dernière saison” pays homage… to the seasons. But also to the ages of evolution, to the link between man and nature, to animals and to quarrels, to Santa Claus and so many others. We meet a zany contortionist, a rebellious acrobat, a Germanic carnival, a Japanese-inspired backdrop, luminous umbrellas, and, above all, a bandleader who transforms into a gorilla, a lion, an elephant. Ineffable, the very singular “zoomorphic acrobat” Cyril Casmèze even lends his stomach to serve as a gourd.

All the performers of this "dernière saison" are exceptional, in their physical mastery of the body, of course, but also as characters, be it slapstick or poetic, or animalistic like La Fontaine or a slapstick wrestler. That is if they do not turn into traveling musical instruments, as if they came straight out of a surreal drawing by Roland Topor. We see them bickering or parading in procession, which gives this slapstick fresco an air of pagan rite and mystery. The image factory is running at full speed.

A circus concert

The pace of change is sustained throughout Shakespearian moods — both poetic and lively — and alternates with slapstick fighting. And whoever says rhythm, says music. “La dernière saison” stands out in the finesse of its compositions and the poignancy of its singers. Rock and African ambiances, songs, jazz, folk — each register receives special attention here. Music is often the poor cousin of so many circus shows. Not here! The show is a treat for the music lovers among us.

It will be all the more difficult to say goodbye to Cirque Plume. And if some artists have already announced their "last show" numerous times, we can take Kudlak at his word. His mastery and the absolute quality of his work suggest that he does not utter the word "last" or "ultimate" lightly. Cirque Plume will be missed. But this announced disappearance is also part of the beauty of its course, and is an artistic act in itself, the icing on a cake under a tent. We have tasted it for more than three decades. Here is one last piece that remains to be tasted — with delight.

Thomas Hahn

Musical composition: Benoit Schick
Costumes: Nadia Genez
Lighting design: Fabrice Crouzet
Sound design: Jean-François Monnier