Le Monde
27 September 2005

Paradise still reinvented by Cirque Plume

CIRCUS. In the big-top area at La Villette park, the company is presenting "Plic Ploc", a watery dream, funny and spectacular.

Fabienne Darge

Le paradis toujours réinventé du Cirque Plume | Le Monde {JPEG}PLIC PLOC. Plic Ploc. Repeat the words several times to see, or rather to hear: drip drop drip drop. Only a few drops in a bowl are needed to measure time, a time that only belongs to Cirque Plume, to its poetry and its gentle dreamers. Plic Ploc or tick tock? Time drips on as a field of metronomes sprouts flowers on stage and tries to impose its far more menacing rhythm: tick tock, tick tock - you see drip drop and tick tock are not at all the same thing in life. Just as in life, there are two irreparably divided camps : the drip drops like Plume and the tick tocks who are, alas, growing ever more numerous !
The tick tocks don’t always make off with paradise: in Plume, the field of metronomes will be covered up, bit by bit, with wheat and poppies, the beautiful first image of the troupe’s new show being presented at La Villette park, under the big-top, until the end of November. Once again, Plume, who celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2004 with this new show that has toured France and Europe, are "en route pour le bonheur", the title of their very first show which translates to "on the road to happiness". We are along for the ride, as we always are with this troupe born in Besançon out of a municipal band that renewed the circus tradition with its ethereal and fanciful universe, delicately crazy, all the while visually and sonorously poetic. After having flown away so often, this time Plume gets wet: Plic Ploc explores water games in all possible colours and forms on the stage where light, white and black, plays with transparency and opacity.

We see, starting from the inaugural droplet, how a leak can open the valves of the imagination. We see how we can juggle, in an incredible manner, with water jets, then transform them into fireworks and make white balls dance on the tops. We see the amazing acrobat Maëlle Boijoux in an aerial number on a garden hose, slipping, flowing and bursting as if she herself was a drop of water. We see the whole troupe in a magical moment, earth, sky and water all mixed up, indulging in lover’s games, then being chased from original paradise by the ballet of broommen. We see the animal tamer, in a moment that contains Plume’s entire irresistible sense of humour, get eaten by a large fantastical beast made up of large red umbrellas only to be spit back out, entirely naked, on stage. We see a man fly away with his umbrella like in a Folon drawing, and a young acrobat (the incredible Laura Smith) try desperately to fly away too, before delivering a breathtaking acrobatic aerial number. We see the degree to which a water jet can be untimely and uncontrollable, just like life.
We see the hair-raising contortionist Sylvaine Charrier, as flexible as a glove, dancing like a bubble along a long chain of rings before a cloud of bubbles engulfs the stage, a subtle alchemy of air and water. Later she indulges in childlike pleasures, innocent and sensual on a mirror of water. We see many other things before the clown-dancer-musician-acrobat-jugglers in Cirque Plume finish behind a large transparent curtain, like salmon fighting to swim upriver, trying to find their origins.
"Circus is a nostalgia for paradise lost", says one of the clowns during this gently craziness. One has to believe that the audience is also dreaming of paradise: Plume’s new triumphant dream that tells us that "it’s not because it’s raining now, that it’ll rain later on", and that paradise is still possible, one just has to invent it.