Machine de Cirque

by Kelly May

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday September 23, 2016

Machine de Cirque
Machine de Cirque  

Machine de Cirque is a talented group of artists... even when only wearing bath towels. Performing on the ArtsEmerson/Paramount stage, the five man group weave together juggling, bowling pins, hats, scaffolding scrambling, aerial skills, and a live percussionist into a well-crafted comedic production.

Acrobatic troupes are amazingly fun to watch. Performers' leaps and feats are done with a sense of fearlessness that can leave audiences gasping in awe. Every troupe like this brings its own strengths; in this case Machine de Cirque's strengths are humor and camaraderie.

The show's plot is the tale of five men who have survived the Apocalypse and have built a machine to find others. But that narrative is only of minimal importance. Instead, the emphasis is the relationship between the men, who act like brothers or lifelong friends. Throughout the performance they tease, jostle, laugh, and support each other. Adding to the relationships theme are the multi-person acts that demonstrate the artists' real-life trust in each other.

This ensemble work makes Cirque de Machine stand out from similar troupes. Often in such shows there's an emphasis on individual artists performing solos; here each artist has his own solo spot, but they don't dominate the evening.

Instead, the production shines the most when they are working as an ensemble, like in their towel act. In this scene, they strip out of their clothes and have only towels to cover themselves (supposedly it rained). While drying off, they fold, flip, and toss the towels about, strategically keeping themselves covered. Masterfully using playful pranks and teasing create a "Will they miss a trick and drop a towel?" tension. And their simplistic sing-songy "Naked. Naked. Naked" chant adds to the fun. The amusing finale comes when a lone performer is abandoned by his comrades with no towel. He hides his nakedness and toddles off stage bent over with his hands wrapped around his ankles, only to turn his last step into a leap while laughing happily.

Machine de Cirque has a loose style that does not give the appearance of detailed execution. Some of this is due to the choreography, but it was also the performers' individual style. The looser style works well -- the charismatic and laughter-filled relationships carry the audience through every tumble and flip.

Machine de Cirque runs until October 2nd at the Emerson/Paramount Mainstage, 559 Washington St., Boston, MA. For further information, visit the ArtsEmerson website.