It celebrates the life of a loved one, and it is both fervent and defiant in its truth. It is a love letter, a homage, a flag hoisted on the highest hill, not at half mast, but with all pennants flying.
At the start of the show, a beautiful acrobat tells us a story of loss and love. Meanwhile, an army of molten guards is waiting. This storytelling continues throughout the whole show, diverging from the fashion of recent years for silent, immersive theatre.
When the cast line up across the stage, we are struck by their efficient physicality. Not a mark out of place. Not an ounce of excess flesh. The sloped shoulders of the deeply physical, descending to perfectly placed collarbones. There is something delicious when an acrobat becomes so highly skilled that they can place their body seemingly wherever they wish, the challenges of brutal and demanding apparatus becomes joyous, whimsical, carefree almost. It belies the years of conditioning, the endless hours of daily training.
They are almost reticent in their judicious use of acrobatic scenes. These are acrobats, but they have made a fable. The skills are there, but this is not a Cirque du Soleil-esque production. This is something else. This is almost a play. It is unusual, to say the least.
The set is a combination of thoughtful projections, but the amazing part is a circle of fabulous wind machines, that create a vortex of movement, throughout which the acrobats send a myriad of amazing props. This sounds like a spoiler, but really it is not, for you must see this with your own eyes to truly appreciate just how divine the movement of air can be. It is breath-taking. It is unique.
The acrobats sing! It is a marvel of sorts, for so often our acrobats are silent. The tell the tale, with curious insight. They sing in harmony. They sing with one voice. It is that leitmotif which we return to; that of the troupe, bound in purpose. And today that purpose is to praise a love who has been lost to this world.
Death is brutal. Grief is hard. Funerals, so often morbid. Ah, but what a wonderful thing to make a tribute that is only about joy, and light, and laughter.
And so, out of great grief, comes a burning desire to pay our respects. Sometimes, it is not enough to merely say goodbye. We have so few rituals for grieving in our modern Western world. Well, here is a glorious tribute to love lost.
In some ways, it is a great indulgence. But if a premiere circus company, consummate professionals in every way, cannot take the privilege of their success to make a great and indulgent piece of work, then what is the point of such success?
There is in effervescent bonhomie ever-present. I am struck by how there is something that acrobats have that we punters do not. A kind of comradery that comes from trusting each other implicitly, with their mortal safety. To know that someone will do the thing that they have told they will do – it is no lie to say their very lives depend on it. Out of such connection comes a great rendering when the line between lovers is lost.
Out of their sorrow they must make art. They are artists. This is what they do.
A deeply personal work, one that makes no pretence of toying with metaphor. No, this show grasps the very muscle of the heart and presents it proudly, unadorned for all to see.
Brisbane Festival and AURECON present Per Te. Dedicated to you, dear Julie.
Per Te plays at the Playhouse, QPAC until September 16 2017.
Written and directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca
Compagnia Finzi Pasca (Switzerland)
On stage Allegra Spernanzoni, Andrée-Anne Gingras Roy, Beatriz Sayad, David Menes, Erika Bettin, Evelyne Laforest, Féelix Salas, Francesco Lanciotti, Jens Leclerc, Marco Paoletti, Moira Albertalli, Nicolὸ Baggio, Rolando Tarquini and Stéphane Gentilini.
Stage Manager Allegra Spernazoni
Tour Director Andrea Caruso Saturnino
Technical Director and Head of Light Julien De La Sablonnière
Head Rigger Jens Leclerc
Head of Sound Alessandro Napoli
Head carpenter and Video Nicolὸ Baggio