Reviewed – 23rd February 2019
“not revolutionary, but it is accomplished, sophisticated, and very fun”
Montreal-based Cirque Éloize celebrates 25 years of performing contemporary circus worldwide with their latest production, Hotel. Set in an Art Deco hotel, the cast of twelve play a variety of staff, guests, and musical instruments. Hotel is everything you’d hope to see in a circus-theatre hybrid, and at a lean one hour and thirty minutes, it’s smart about avoiding the excesses that often bog shows down. This one’s a whirlwind that sweeps you up and leaves you reeling.
Hotel boasts all the circus staples: César Mispelon and Julius Bitterling open the show with a highly enjoyable hand-to-hand routine. Jérémy Vitter is impressive on the slackline, and Cory Marsh’s Cyr wheel will have you gaping. Antonin Wicky pulls laughs from the audience easily with his clever, charming clown act involving suitcases (and eventually getting his head stuck in one). Philippe Dupuis nails a wow-worthy juggling routine. The Chinese Pole finale is stunning. There are no weak acts in the show, but Tuedon Ariri and Una Bennett shine in particular with standout aerial performances: Ariri on straps and Bennett on rope. The soundtrack is part EDM and part sung live by Sabrina Halde, whose powerful vocals add a wonderfully rich layer to this vibrant and dynamic show.
A very loose storyline about a flustered hotel manager (Wicky) and a celebrity who comes to stay (Ariri) provide brief transitions between the acts. Narratives for the rest of the characters are even looser and can be difficult to discern. Plot is clearly not a priority – Hotel is more of a setting with characters than it is a story. But actually it doesn’t matter all that much. There are plenty of other options in London for theatre with traditional narratives. The performers of Hotel are powerfully talented, and in the end it is them we are there to see.
The visionary design makes the show. The early 20th century aesthetic with modern streaks is captivatingly surreal. The performers exploit every aspect of the set: from the decor to the door, they crawl, leap, and tumble over everything. It all comes together to create a cohesive and unique world. As a whole, the show is an inspired work of art.
Seasoned circus-goers may not find a lot that’s particularly progressive or thrilling. There are bigger companies pushing the boundaries of ‘death-defying’ acts, and edgier companies challenging the artform. Hotel, however, covers all the basics of contemporary circus, which makes it perfect for people not overly familiar with the genre. The audience last night was undeniably wowed – gasping and laughing, barely restrained by etiquette from clapping constantly. The show is not specifically geared toward children, but there’s plenty for them to enjoy.
Cirque Éloize’s Hotel is not revolutionary, but it is accomplished, sophisticated, and very fun. It’s entertaining start to finish – a great option for something different to see on an evening out.
Reviewed by Addison Waite
Photography courtesy Cirque Éloize
Peacock Theatre until 9th March
Previously reviewed at this venue: