Transit at Underbelly Festival
The French Canadian circus troupe Flip Fabrique have a new show to present at South Bank’s Underbelly, Transit. Based on the concept of travelling between shows, it celebrates the friendships created through the close-knit troupe lifestyle. The six performers begin in jolly style, joyfully flinging the one woman, Jade Dussault, about in some beautifully choreographed moves using a large shipping crate. With limited props, they propel themselves through the next 70 minutes.
There are different shades for some of the performers to show their particular areas of expertise. Jérémie Arsenault is impressive with the diabolo, seemingly slowing it to a stop mid-air. Dussault’s speciality is some mesmerising hula hoop tricks. Jasmin Blouin manages to perform 15 circus tricks in 90 seconds, throwing knives, spinning plates and flipping himself through hula hoops in a bravura show of coordination. Jonathan Julien appears in a lycra one-piece to perform strong-man feats: human pyramids with a one-man base, balancing all five of his colleagues on different parts of his body
Pierre Riviere is balletic on the air straps, flying and twisting with élan. He gets topless with a little encouragement from the audience and that deserves five stars in itself. Later in the show, he appears in a fat suit, inexplicably stuffing his face with doughnuts, shrieking about his predicament and then once more takes to the air straps in a routine full of physical humour.
There are several striking set pieces. One, using neon skipping ropes, is so dextrous that the eye barely has time to keep up with what is going on. Tricks using hula hoops where the troupe jump through them like salmon leaping upstream are different and fun to watch. Juggling pins that light up in the dark to some trance music create an especially striking moment; it looks fantastic.
The finale is a spectacular show of athleticism and acrobatics, whereby the troupe use a trampoline to run up the backdrop of shipping crates vertically. Cédrik Pinault and Blouin somersault before landing on top of the stage backdrop, with Julien and Arsenault leaping too. It is satisfying to watch, especially when a load of bouncy balls are introduced to the fun, the athleticism so precise that they actually slow down before landing.
Transit is a charming production with very likeable performers, although the concept feels a little unclear. Unfortunately, at times where there is no music you can hear the show carrying on in the tent next door. It’s not as slick as some circus acts, which actually makes it more believable and brings home the fact that these tricks really have the potential to go wrong, especially in a relatively small space with lights and bits of staging everywhere. The piece is joyful, but could do with some tweaks for a stronger narrative concept.
Photos: The Other Richard
Transit is at Underbelly Festival from 27th May until 7th July 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.