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Arts Festival Reivew: Cirque Ici - Secret

Arts Festival Reivew: Cirque Ici - Secret

Review by Alison Little

Cirque Ici - Secret
Reviewed by Alison Little
22 Feb - 16 Mar 2008 for times and bookings
Odlins Plaza, Wellington Waterfront
$75.00 (FR $70)

If ever you dreamed of running off to join a circus when you were young, unless you were a very disturbed child Johann le Guillerm's Cirque was not the kind of circus that you dreamed of joining. M'seuir le Guillerm's chosen persona is that of an angry angry man, a manic demonic sad clown on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

There are no physical lions or tigers here, although their ghosts are evoked as le Guillerm lashes his whip and seeks to tame objects from the material world, ordinary-seeming items possessed of a strange willful lifeforce. Laundry tubs, old books and planks of wood are all transformed into unexpected forms, creating dynamic and occasionally menacing sculptures.

Le Guillerm's preternaturally lithe body vibrates with a strange physicality, alternatively tense and sinuous. His feet are bizarrely expressive, encased in large segmented metal shoes, dramatic and loud, demanding attention. His hands, too, move constantly, twisting and writhing behind his back, shouting silently of inner turmoil.

The show is held in a traditional circus tent, the audience sitting on hard plank seats arranged around a circular central stage. At the start there is a wide mesh net between the audience and the stage, this is removed part way through the show. Just before le Guillerm starts to play with a heavy cleaver, hissing and snarling at the audience, admiring himself in the shiny blade, tossing it casually over his head. You can't help wondering how deep the persona goes…

Overall, le Guillerm is fascinating to watch in Cirque Ici – Secret. Like all good 'one man' shows this one is supported by a slick and well rehearsed support crew. They well deserve their turn in front of the applause at the close of show, having managed the sound, gothic light structures and the wrangling of barely-tamed objects on and off the stage perfectly. The contrast between their skillful calm and le Guillerm's frenzy was lovely to watch.

Secret is dramatic and interesting, clever and very artful. Le Guillerm's melancholic clown is at times just a tinge too close to the muttering madman that we hope will never sit beside us on the bus, yet he manages to draw you utterly into his world.


Cirque Ici on the Arts Festival website

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