Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Chapter 39: Séquence 8 at Sadlers Wells - A Fusion of Friends

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” 

C. G. Jung

Well that sparks me off.  It’s the quote that the Québecois-based company 7 doigts de la main use on their website to introduce the show Séquence 8, and it applies as much to the chemistry these performers have with the audience as that between each other. 

From the word go the performers engaged the audience, and that rapport is key to their success:   “The performer cannot exist without the audience” they declare at the beginning. They thought of us and we loved them for it.   One of the highlights for the children was the surreal quiz thrown out to the audience: what is Max’s mood?  Sad? Angry? Happy? ... Purple? or What is your name?  ... is the right answer!  Each correct answer would result in a bell being rung at the top of the pole.  The comedy lay in how the top of the pole was reached.  Another highlight was Eric Bates' sublimely dextrous juggling of the cigar-boxes, and the ensuing hilarity as they morphed into super-sized versions. 

Colin Davis, the compere, was superb, stellar in his trumpet playing, sonorous in his singing, he was moving, he was funny, he made us laugh, even empathising with our bladder control, crossing our legs waiting for the approaching interval. And he was cute in that preppy Canadian way (well, reminiscent of the ones I used to date anyway!). That’s what I love about the circus - the boys are beautiful, the girls are strong. Plenty there to admire.  And if you were sitting in the front row and caught their eye you may have got a kiss to boot. 

Speaking of bonding, I appreciated the use of black sticky tape (easy tiger!), used to place targets and landing points for acrobats in rehearsals, to create a cat’s cradle spun round the performers, connecting them. Using such a prop reinforced the fact that their circus training is the glue that sticks them together.  And it breaks eventually, as needs must.  There were empty frames hanging on the backdrop, as if to indicate that the portraits had materialised into the performers on stage.  The aerial hoop then became a frame for a portrait in motion, or a mirror capturing the reflected movements of the performers. 

A moment that caught me was where three performers stripped off layers of clothing, until they were left standing there in all their underwear.  A couple were clearly more comfortable in their own skin than the third, and yet he was willing to own that insecurity, because you can among friends.  The joy of friendship is that you can bare all and find acceptance just as you are.  To me, that was an act of courage.  With the emphasis on coeur.

At at the heart of it all, then, was this circle of friends, using their relationship with each other as a springboard for their performance, the jaw-dropping back-flips on the bendy board (the Russian barre) a case in point.  Friendship is a fine balancing act, an exercise in trust, and not for nothing was one of the tracks Tunng's "Bullets".  Forget knife-throwers, this circus of friendship is all about catching bullets in your teeth.  

So many friends I know went to see the show, albeit at different times, and there has been a huge buzz afterwards, both on-line and in the playground.  So much so that it has felt as though this shared, communal experience has created its own connection.  So here’s to the alchemy of friendship.  Pure gold. 

Note:  You can find the Séquence 8 playlist on YouTube (click here)

Photo credits:  The Grimaldi Forum (click here)

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