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Le Noir: The Dark Side of the Cirque

Jennifer Penton

Following a sold out world tour, this electrifying performance arrives in Brisbane for its Australian premiere at QPAC.
Le Noir: The Dark Side of the Cirque

Featuring twenty two outstanding cirque performers, many of whom are former stars of Cirque du Soleil, Le Noir is a captivating, white-knuckle ride that will have you on the edge of your seat and breathing a sigh of relief when each act finishes unscathed. A showcase of contemporary circus at its most thrilling, the performers are undoubtedly some of the best in the world: from the skaters who spin at break neck speed while performing daredevil stunts just metres away from the audience, to the aerial cradle – never seen before in Australia, and the Columbian wheel of death which is quite simply terrifying.

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The QPAC stage, for the first time, has been transformed into a circular stage offering 360 degree views of the action. The auditorium has been extended so that audiences sit around the performance podium, getting closer to the performance than ever before, with the ringside tables resembling a 1920s cabaret bar. This is an interesting idea and it must be a fantastic experience for those lucky enough to be up there. However, the difference in intimacy means that it cannot help but feel as though the performance is really being staged for those in premium seating, while the rest of merely look on from afar. While the performance is outstanding from all angles and distances, there is inevitably an ‘us’ and ‘them’ feeling created by this set up.

Despite this, the performance is an immense spectacle. With a live DJ playing a soundtrack that is beyond cool, lighting that wouldn’t look out of place at a rock concert and dancers in showgirl costumes, there is a lot of glitz and glamour here. This creates a truly awesome atmosphere and takes this show beyond the usual contemporary circus experience.

But, although the circus acts are outstanding and the production values are incredibly high, there is something here that is difficult to connect with. At times the sensation of the event feels overdone and it begins to feel like unnecessary padding. I also felt that there was a lot of sexual imagery that makes this show unsuitable for family audiences – although this is the dark side of cirque so perhaps that is to be anticipated.

If you are looking to be transported into new realms of spectacle and sensation then this is definitely the performance for you. If however you prefer work that concentrates on delivering points of connection, emotion and affinity then perhaps give it a wide berth. In saying that, I must reiterate that the standard here is exceptional and the show delivers the very best in circus talent, so if it’s skill and flair you wish to see, then you can expect Le Noir to deliver.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Le Noir: The Dark Side of the Cirque

Lyric Theatre, QPAC, South Bank
www.qpac.com.au
1 – 17 August
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Jennifer Penton is a Brisbane-based reviewer for ArtsHub.

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