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canada’s cirque eloize presents ‘id’ @ riverside theatres parramatta

The old timers, especially flyers, often talk about it. So do the trap catchers, slack and tight walkers even modern aerialists on silks and rings and Chinese poles. They will tell you about the people with terminal illnesses who seek them out after a show. Who thank them for confronting the unknown beyond, for staring mortality down. iD, from Canada’s Cirque Éloize as part of the Sydney Festival, is vibrant and exciting, thrilling and skilful. It’s fantastically entertaining fun but the finale is that rare moment when the physical gives way to the spiritual. When human beings are suspended for just that second of time between corporeal and divine.

Before the curtain goes up at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, while the audience chat with companions, there is a well-mixed and sourced urban soundscape surrounding them. With the rise of the red velvet drop it is indeed a busy street to be seen. Several levels of grey blocks behind and the cast of 15 travelling across. Umbrella holding office workers and hard hat wearing construction workers for ambiance but it is the hoodie wearing toughs that soon take over the mean streets. They slouch around and hurl themselves into alert poses as a young man and woman catch each other’s eye downstage.

iD begins in love. As apartments are drawn with projected shadows on the upstage blocks, and shadow voyeur faces peer from the windows the lovers begin their dance. The romantic gives way to the dynamic as Chinese pole work is firstly, the seduction then; with seemingly harmless birdsong heralding it, the aggression begins as opposing street gangs arrive with rumble on their mind. The projections fill the space with colourful and coded graffiti. It ends well for the lovers though and the final kiss is stunningly athletic and unexpected.

Combining circus arts and urban dance with evocative projections and thumping pulsing music, iD is a sensory feast. There’s a gang impetus in the dance routines, trial bike hops and jumps, in-line skating and aerial silks and hoop. But there is a softer and narrower story in the hand and body balances, the strength work, and in the breathtaking contortionism.

The Troupe’s specialties are listed in the program but it is the vivid integration and cohesion of the group that is on display during my eternal favourite, the rope work. The skipping is impelling and to the “Jump, jump, jump” of the music the squat skips and double rope and bikes and blades are so cheeky and entertaining. This is wonderful circus for young or old.

Especially that finale where the upstage blocks become the playground for the Trampwall team. A kind of bouncy Parkour this stunning work is flawless in design and execution. When 3 big men are flying within inches of each other or gracefully soaring into a tiny door slightly ajar in that massive wall every face in the audience is looking up and every heart beats faster.

But it is when they fly up and are still, just for that moment, with one toe on a ledge and inertia defying gravity that, if we care to see, there is grace and comfort beyond our earthy cares. Take the kids, take your parents. It’s a show for all ages that leaves you awed and surprised and … uplifted.

iD continues as part of the Sydney festival until 22nd January.


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