ArtsEmerson's "Machine de Cirque": Towel of Terror

Four Fifths of The Cast of "Machine de Cirque"
(photo: Loup-William Theberge)

Horseplay in the locker room will never be the same. Just when we thought it was safe to come out of the water, and just in time for some desperately needed escape from the absurdity of our national election, along comes a ninety-minute, intermission-less bit of madcap fun that goes by the name of Machine de Cirque. ArtsEmerson is now presenting the area premiere of this new Quebec City circus company, founded in 2013, a not-for-profit group whose self-described goal is “to gather various players from the art world and technology field to produce circus shows”. The fundamental concept is simple: five men try to preserve their post-apocalyptic civilization using found junk parts (teeter boards, juggling clubs, drum kits), and their own invention to create whatever tools they will need to locate other survivors. In the course of this quest, they “don't hesitate to reveal themselves”...literally. Their “canvas is the body, and its limits”. And what a canvas it is.

The Director, Co-Writer & Original Idea's creator is Vincent Dube, with Co-Writers, Co-Directors and performing Artists in the persons of Yohann Trepanier, Raphael Dube, Maxim Laurin, Ugo Dario and Frederic Lebrasseur (who also composed the Music). All contributed to the evolution of the show, called a “creation project” by Vincent Dube. (It's noteworthy that his brother Raphael and Trepanier had been a successful comedy juggling duo). In just ninety swiftly-passing minutes, this quintet manages countless feats that defy description (and the less one reveals anyway, the better). The technical team is right in tune, from the Costume Design by Sebastien Dionne to the Lighting Design by Bruno Matte, Sound Design by Rene Talbot and Mechanical Engineering by David St.-Onge. The set seemed as though Rube Goldberg and Louise Nevelson had co-conspired, and works beautifully.

And it's about that towel of terror, or rather towels plural; this too defies any attempt to convey the timing and precision this bit requires, and the hilarity that ensues. All the mayhem and madness takes place at the Paramount Mainstage, but only until October 2nd. We still have the rest of the election to suffer through, but this show is the perfect antidote to electoral stress, and should provide some temporary symptomatic relief. Get off that bathmat and head for the theater while there's still time. The towel scene alone is the funniest, bawdiest, and most brilliant visual ever conceived, and a joy to watch unravel.

The Entire Cast of "Machine de Cirque"
(photo: Loup-William Theberge)

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