The artistry and skill of the eight acrobats of circus troupe Les 7 doigts de la main is breathtaking. With a variety of circus acts, humorous commentary, and brilliantly staged sequences of acrobatic choreography, this is one of the most impressive shows of any kind I’ve seen in a long time. Not only did the circus acts themselves have the audiences gasping and holding their breath, but the clever commentary in between these scenes had us all laughing hysterically.
For example, after two of the acrobats performed on the seesaw, they each spoke in French giving their interpretation of what the scene represented. One said that it represented the yin and yang of life, and the other said that it simply represented two men going up and down. As the acrobat playing the role of the commentator summarized what they had said in English, he explained that the two of them went out together to a restaurant to discuss their act with two people named Yin and Yang.
These interludes of witty commentary took the place of the comic relief clowns found in Cirque du Soleil shows, and the content often had the audience roaring with laughter. Another segment featured the commentator mocking a late-night talk show host while interviewing one of the acrobats about his new self-help book, which was also brilliantly mocked.
Each of the performers specialized in a different acrobatic feat, whether it was jumping through a hoop in unimaginable ways, hanging off a vertical pole with just one hand, or performing on the Russian bar, trapeze, and aerial hoop. There was even some breakdancing and beatboxing, along with mesmerizing, free-flowing segments of choreography that featured all the performers leaping, flipping, and tumbling across the stage.
What set this production apart from other circus acts is the attention to detail, narrative, and pure artistry, along with an incomparable sense of humour. That, along with a combination of simple staging, captivating music, and stunning performances, made this a rare show that deserves endless praise.
Séquence 8 was performed at the Vancouver Playhouse as part of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival from January 22 to 24. For more information, visit pushfestival.ca.