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Barbican Centre, London

Petit théâtre de gestes
5.0Reviewer's Rating

An automated accordion player welcoming us onto the makeshift stage of an itinerant fairground show amidst nostalgic music, “Bêtes de foire – Petit théâtre de gestes” allies carefully crafted automated performers and an array of circus skills performed by Laurent Cabrol and Elsa de Witte within their unique universe of old clothes, mannequins and bric-a-brac, found outside their traditional and charming trailer.

With a choreography which shows complicity and precision, a lady dressmaker cuts assorted fabrics in rhythm to the sound of jazz and of her old-fashioned sewing machine, while an eccentric gentleman synchronically piles up top hats on his head and starts juggling with them, with both skill and absurd humour. He is soon joined by a couple of mechanical dancers whose construction from recycled materials is slowly elaborated in front of our amazed eyes to uncover an acrobatic ballerina and her partner.

Originating from French street theatre and travelling companies, Laurent Cabrol and Elsa de Witte have developed a unique ability to develop and entertain an affectionate relationship with their audience, and it shows, particularly when he starts juggling with small balls, jumping out of his travelling bag, on the floor, or their dog Sokha pretends to be lazy and does not complete its expected act.

Later joined by a mechanical (and at one point, blind-folded) tightrope walker on a bicycle, the show succeeds in blending reality and fiction to create a world which is together poetic, funny and intriguing, uncovering many surprises and wonder. A fantastic start to the New Year!

  • Circus
  • By the Bêtes de foire Company
  • Performed by Laurent Cabrol and Elsa de Witte
  • Barbican Centre, London
  • 16 - 20 January 2018

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