CircusFest 2014: La Meute at the Roundhouse
A man, clad only in a precariously-placed towel, is propelled ten metres into the air while another five stand around below, looking on with the kind of horror you would expect considering the only safety mat is in no way underneath the flying Frenchman. At the last moment, however, they swiftly slide into place and the man lands with a satisfying thud onto the pillowy mat. And so goes the nail-biting spectacle that is La Meute, a production from the French company of the same name, part of the Roundhouse’s CircusFest season.
Formed of six recent graduates of Stockholm University of Dance and Circus, La Meute combines the precision and skill of acrobatics with madcap French humour. Mastering the art of the terrifyingly dangerous Russian swing with ease, they negotiate the complex acrobatics with deliberate chaos. They act like amateurs, though we know they are far from it.
As the show continues, however, they become increasingly masterful, moving among the apparatus like lizards, there one minute yet somewhere else the next without seemingly having moved. They integrate physical comedy with a series of painful looking stunts, that come wincingly close to inflicting almost certain infertility. Poles, planks, ladders and humans are piled up across the stage and, like a game of Mousetrap, with the tug of a rope it all comes tumbling down around the teetering acrobats with satisfyingly kinetic and implausibly smooth trips and flips.
It is easy to assume that these precariously fashioned and inexplicable towel nappies that are worn throughout conceal a more secure costume, but a Full Monty-style finale proves they are not. There are no harnesses here, and the performers rely entirely on each other. Trust, instinct and primitivity; they don’t get the name La Meute (meaning wolf pack) for nothing.
The production is cohesive in its clownish bizarrity, but in little else. But La Meute’s absurdist humour, and its stark contrast with the meticulously choreographed madness, is wildly enjoyable nonetheless.
Photos: Ambra Vernuccio
La Meute is on at the Roundhouse until 6th April 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch La Meute in action here: