In order not to run out of compliments, and leave a few in hand, the season is barely off to a start and, we have to say, this show is great. It is as clean and as nonabrasive as can be. We might go as far as to say that it is poetic too but Valéry would be bound to whisper in our ear that most men have such a vague idea of poetry that even that which is vague in their idea is their definition of poetry. So we’ll make do with "great".
Le Cirque has changed, it’s funny. The world has changed too, at least what we call society, and tonight I understood how the first mirrors the second. In the times when man believed without too much of an argument being put up that he was the master and owner of nature, circus people were thought arrogant, proud and overbearing - a vanity reflected whenever the slightest hitch occurred. They tamed animals and carried out their performances, hiding their fear and hesitation. The show had to go on. At a time when the mad were locked up, so as not to be heard, with no great concern for calming or healing them, when their art was not yet recognized as unbridled, the best were put on show in the fair.
Today, it is the turn of the mad to talk and for us to listen, because man no longer controls much of anything, the circus does not include animals, there is no excessive confidence of the mad and of simpletons and nothing special either, no superfluous effects, just the poetry of objects, a little music, ingenious lighting and the inventiveness of the shadow-play theater, the theater on its own, and of cinema.
Today, finally, we believe that woman is man’s equal, although she is not necessarily his future which can never be built alone; the women in the company are more self-assured, powerful tightrope and trapeze artists, than are the men. But they do not necessarily have the erstwhile made-up beauty we knew because for them, making up is a perilous and risible act. The men become ridiculous and fragile too. We almost laugh only at them. But there is always some compassion from feeling akin to them. They perform their acts with a feigned lack of assurance and with magnificent self-derision.
Today, as never before, the dead rule the living and the circus is no longer a pure art of the present, removed from its context. One of the circus artistes is a laborer from Sochaux, making us think back at times to the Algerian war and at others, to noisy demonstration walks.
It is outstandingly melancholic. Le cirque Plume has been around for 30 years and some of the older bodies can barely do more than to speak. They hearken back to the people who understood that the circus says something about life and man with so few means and such a flood of emotions that tears came to my eyes. So, to Chaplin and his hat – it’s crazy what he can do with it – to Tati, to Fellini, heard in the strains of a clarinet. The subtitle of the show really means something: a walk on the lost path. But we finish with a samba. Hearing the kids laugh also makes us laugh. I think it takes a lifetime to reach this high a level.