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Review: MACHINE DE CIRQUE, Peacock Theatre

Endlessly inventive, ridiculously energetic and racy: this circus feast has it all

Review: MACHINE DE CIRQUE, Peacock Theatre

Review: MACHINE DE CIRQUE, Peacock Theatre Looking for something endlessly inventive, ridiculously energetic, child-friendly yet racier than an MP's browsing history? Machine de Cirque has it all.

The brainchild of circus veteran and engineer Vincent Dubé has been wowing family audience around the globe since 2015 with blend of comedy, acrobatics and percussion. The show is described as a post-apocalyptic search for other survivors but this 90-minute no-interval show is more like one long callback to playground activities - like bicycling around, swinging on monkey bars and riding a seesaw - as well as more adult antics like dating and the joy of walking around (practically) naked.

Composed of five acrobats plus musician Frédéric Lebrasseur, this is a crew with talent to spare. They barely take pause for breath as they dash from one dazzling set piece to another. Maxim Laurin swings from trapeze to Chinese pole and back in quick, fluid moves flipping between the two before executing a perfect toe hang.

Yohann Trépanier is likely to give all the parents in the audience nightmares as he rides a bicycle in every way but how we are taught to; as well as cycling around while facing backwards at speed, spinning about in the seat and pulling off spell-binding front and back wheelies, he somehow manages to keep the bike in motion as he carries out a spectacular handstand on the handlebars.

When not jumping around the scaffolding structure at the back of the stage, occasionally taking Lebrasseur with them, the quintet of acrobats show a dazzling range of circus skills as they leap like salmon through ever higher and higher hoops, throw huge numbers of juggling clubs through the air and carry out crazy somersaults off a teeterboard (a circus version of a seesaw).

Clowning is another excellent element of this internationally celebrated show. At one point, Ugo Dario brings a young woman up from the front rows to join him on a date with his fellow artistes happily standing in as café chairs, movie seats and even a riproaring motorcycle. Playful rather than creepy, this is a heartfelt moment cleverly placed amid the madcap physicality seen before and after.

The pièce de résistance, though, is done with a very simple household item. In his seminal novel The Hitchhikers' Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams called a towel "about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and here it provides a massively essential part of a hilarious routine. As Les Beaux Frères, Trépanier and Raphaël Dubé amazed America's Got Talent judges with their duo towel routine and, in this extended version, five naked acrobats do their best to juggle the cloths every which way in order to retain some modicum of modesty. Each flip and cheeky slip brings squeals from the audience; it's hard to tell whether the loudest outbursts are coming from the kids or their mums.

Whether you're a circus connoisseur or just want to see an incredibly entertaining show, Vincent Dubé's Machine du Cirque is frankly unmissable.

Machine de Cirque continues until June 11

Photo Credit: Stéphane Bourgeois

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