Daniele Finzi Pasca’s name alone means you’re in for something special. After all, his previous shows include the gorgeous sky trilogy of Nomade, Rain and Nebbia for Cirque Eloize, and Corteo for Cirque du Soleil. He has described his ability to come up with one masterpiece after another as similar to having children. It just happens.
Now Finzi Pasca’s gaze falls on Chekhov and, after studying his diaries and works, he has created the playful Donka. Apparently Chekhov loved circus - who doesn’t these days? - and magical visual trickery and circus acts of startling brilliance are threaded with elements of his writing and interests. It helps if you know the stories but everyone will recognise the three sisters (here bickering on static trapeze), his work as a doctor and his love of fishing, alongside references to suicide and death.
Evocative music from Maria Bonzanigo, Giovanna Buzzi’s glorious period costumes, Roberto Vitalini’s filmic video projections and Finzi Pasca’s own graphic lighting help conjure a dream world where anything might happen.
Many of the extraordinary international circus artists, dancers and musicians are as supple as contortionists and all of them sing. The silhouette/shadow-play sequences and trompe l’oeil acrobatics are exceptional and you won’t see more beautiful work on Cyr wheel than that of David Menes, whose acro-balance number with Karen Bernal is unique and whose juggling skills also impress. Revealing all the surprises would spoil things but it is worth crawling through fire for the exquisite first act finale.
Strange and surreal, funny and fun, Donka is simply dazzling.