Cirque Éloize bring their circus to town this week, far from clowns throwing buckets of water, the most intricately trained team present a show that combines the worlds of circus, dance and theatre. In this, Cirkopolis we find ourselves trapped n the heart of a stern and imposing city in appearance, giant gears and dark portals symbolise a mechanism that crushes individuality.
We begin somewhere between imagination and reality. The day to day and the mundane life of city workers makes for a stark and repetitive opening ... it's like work life. The joy is in finding the little things that make a difference and offer something fresh. A little puppet presses a bell and provides momentary humour before the stage is flooded with rushing commuters.
It is when a female emerges from the crowd in a red dress that colour interrupts the monochromatic madness. A solitary moment she (Léa Toran Jenner) forlornly takes to the Cyr wheel and gives a heartfelt, emotional routine as she manipulates the wheel. It's incredibly lonely and suggests she wants to explore beyond the confines of her ring but even central hero, Ashley (Ashley Carr), is happy is happy to suppress his individuality in order to fit in.
It's easy to spectate and draw comparisons with your own life, but importantly, waiting in the wings are more colourful characters who along the way show Ashley and remind you that there is fun to be had. With a fearless ensemble, the evening is full of stunning aerial acts, the danse trapeze, juggling, the German wheel, teeterboard and Chinese pole - the foundations of circus skills are all there but this is far more sophisticated.
There's an impressive use of projection that depicts the industrialised floating city and through an increased intensity of light and the addition of colour, a vibrant finale ends these people's journey that thoroughly and most entertainingly progresses from the monochrome to a more elaborate, thrilling, high energy climax. With moments of pure tenderness and others of hilarity, Cirkopolis is both frantic and fantastically fascinating.
View the trailer
See Cirkopolis at Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday 28 March. Tickets here.