La Vie

MAD PROPS Chassé doesn’t let a straitjacket keep her down.

MAD PROPS Chassé doesn’t let a straitjacket keep her down. Photo: Joan Marcus

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Circus arts and drama often flirt but rarely hit it off in bed. Troupes such as Improbable and the Flying Machine mix storytelling with clown and acrobat skills to thrilling effect, but generally, when carnies try to tell a story, the result looks like La Vie (in repertory with Absinthe at the Spiegeltent). The Montreal-based Les 7 Doigts de la Main start off with the slenderest of narrative frames—we are in limbo watching purgatorial souls writhe—then abandon it halfway through.

Such dramaturgical slackness would be disconcerting if the performers were less charismatic. Sébastien Soldevila, with a shaved head and a seductive French purr, makes for a sinister-sexy MC who promises to reveal our deepest unconfessed sins. While his observations about l’amour and la mort don’t go very deep, there are some astonishing individual sequences. Rope dancer Isabelle Chassé, in straitjacket, tries to flee her asylum on knotted sheets high above our heads; well-built Samuel Tetreault, as an unscrupulous airline owner, effectively “flies” thanks to his astonishing balance work on poles. And Soldevila and Patrick Leonard’s breathtaking skill on diabolo (a conical spool spun on string connected to sticks) will have you reflexively ducking and gasping at their derring-do. For a show with this much joyous vitality, you have to appreciate the ironic running joke that we’re watching scenes from beyond the grave.

The Spiegeltent (see Burlesque & variety). Created and performed by Les 7 Doigts de la Main. 1hr 35mins. No intermission.