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The Seven Fingers: Traces

A scene from Seven Fingers - Trac A scene from Seven Fingers - Trace. Photo: Alexandre Galliez
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Good circus acts are now so common that it takes something really special to make them stand out from the crowd. The girl and six boys of Les Sept Doigts de la Main are all individually skilled as well as an effective ensemble but their concept is underwhelming. This is post-apocalypse lite – trapped in a kind of ‘shelter’ in the aftermath of a mysterious global catastrophe they amuse each other with circus tricks. Emerging from the same cultural mother as the Cirque du Soleil they are fresh and real, avoiding the bloated bombast of their big brother.

But they could make more of the fact that there is one lone female amid a sextet of sexed up, six-packed blokes. At the start, Anne-Marie Godin is tossed around the stage like a basketball until a real basketball arrives to give her a break. Yet when she swaps the uniform black trousers and white vest for a flaming red dress for her aerial strap act the boys ignore the transformation.

The addition of some basic choreography and a combination of live video feed and filmed inserts shifts it towards a narrative structure but it remains under-developed. The Chinese pole work is impressive – everyone gets a go and all have more than usual proficiency including the man who can climb hand over hand without using his feet. Yann LeBlanc rolls around merrily in the cry wheel while Enmeng Song juggles his diabolo – a sort of unattached yo-yo – with stylish flair.

There is some ineffectual clowning around a piano and some business with chalk outlines but the best comedy sequence is Godin’s armchair acrobatics while reading a book. Things get a bit macho with the teeterboard as the boys start pushing and shoving for no apparent reason and the skateboarding sequence is, frankly, lamentable. They need to head down to London’s Southbank to see how it should be done. But they are game enough to repeat any action that goes wrong and when they get it right the response is conspicuously enthusiastic.

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Montreal circus septet exude youthful energy and personality within a dog-eared futurist structure