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Cirkopolis review at Pleasance at EICC – ‘impressive stunts but hazy narrative’

Cirque Eloize's Cirkopolis. Photo: Valerie Remise Cirque Eloize's Cirkopolis. Photo: Valerie Remise
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Cirkopolis has technical feats aplenty but its lacks a real storytelling soul. Intended as a family-friendly reworking of Metropolis, the narrative clarity is somewhat fuzzy. Instead of a set, there’s a digital backdrop that zooms through a gloomy greyish vista of factories and skyscrapers. Images of churning cogs and a procession of shuffling figures in trench coats and trilbies indicate that this is a mechanised urban society, subject to lively bursts of circus.

Cirque Eloize’s Cirkopolis. Photo: Valerie Remise

A female performer’s impressive Cyr wheel routine to a schmaltzy ballad sets up a romantic interest for the central protagonist and a precedent for tired gender roles. during a hand-balancing sequence, a woman in a purple dress is passed between blokes – while it’s an awesome feat in itself, her agency is symbolically reduced to looking winsome and raising her leg to a crotch-splitting height.

Later, a construction site turns into a playground ripe for stunts from both sexes while bureaucratic conformity is ripped up and flipped around in an ensemble section featuring a teeterboard and novel use of a filing cabinet. For all its fun tricks and high-jinks, there’s something curiously routine and cold about Cirkopolis. Gravity is defied, but its spirit remains oddly pedestrian.

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Impressive acrobatic stunts tacked onto a hazy narrative in circus reinvention of Metropolis