Le Monde
9 February 1997

The light, voluptuous and circuitous fancies of the Cirque Plume

Brigitte Salino

The troupe from Besançon is now performing "L’harmonie est-elle municipale ?" in the big top at the Parc de la Villette, Paris. They continue their quest for happiness with grace, humour poetry and love

"L’harmonie est-elle municipale ?" Director Bernard Kuklak. Music. Robert Miny. With Jane Allan, Alexandre Demay, Valérie Dubourg, Michèle Faivre, Valérie Garçon, Jean-Marie Jacquet, Bernard Kudlak, Pierre Kudlak, Alain Mallet, Rachel Ponsonby, Jacques Schneider et Brigitte Sepaser. PARC DE LA VILLETTE, 211, Avenue Jean Jaurès,19¡. Metro Porte de la Villette. Tel.:, Friday and Saturday at 16 00. 140Fr. Duration: Ih 40. Until 16 March.

Their first show was called On the Road towards Happiness. That was in 1983 in Besançon. In a makeshift bigtop nine lads and lasses gave birth to what in the spring of 1984 became officially the Cirque Plume. Fourteen years on and several European tours later, the nine have become thirteen and are performing "L’harmonie est-elle municipale ?" in a 1000 seat bigtop. Time has not changed
their story : the quest for happiness is still the tale they tell.

This time there are six men and six women. The men are a brass-band, the women a brazen bunch. Bedecked in bright colours, like gipsies, insolence in every muscle, eroticism hovering in every look, they seem determined to fight with the opposite team who hide their tricks behind a solid masculine lumpishness. So much for the theme which the show really goes to town on. With the Cirque Plume everything is light and airy like the billowy drapes of the decor. Everything flies, takes to the air - even the bicycle bounces on the trampoline. Everything is good for making music, from the musical saw, tuba, bouzouki... to the very fingers fingers of a women which are transformed into whistles.

Everything becomes magical - the play of shadows behind the drapes, the spendid girations of a girl in a cirlcle of light.

A singer blows softly to snuff out the light. The tightrope-walker cuts through the air to embrace her beloved. A rabbit drawn from a hat applauds with his front paws. Hands play unassisted on the piano keyboard. Where is the circus in all this ? Nowhere and everywhere. There is no circus ring but a stage-setting within which the circus dreams itself. Trapeze, somersaults, balancing acts, acrobatics ...., all the sort of fanciful things that the travelling people pursue are presented. Only that the "Plume" performers turn them to their own ends : gracefulness comes on heels of contorsion, poetry shines from the eyes of the craziest of the gang, Jacques Schneider, humour gets the better of performance, and, above all love is there, sweet as a song, strong as a harmony, infinitly childlike.

Towards the end of the show, a woman and a man, are there, naked, side by side. The man’s sex is hidden between his thighs. The woman takes a watering-can and pours water. His sex appears, two smiles lighten up their faces. And it all finishes with a kiss, with a fanfare from the band to celebrate the greatness of an evening’s happiness.