Fritz Lang’s Metropolis stands as one of the greatest films ever made, defying its era and exceeding all expectations (apart from, by many accounts, those of Lang himself). It was an incredible science fiction tale of love and class, coupled with a mesmerising aesthetic which still impresses to this day. It was only recently that the entirety of Metropolis has been pieced together, and now there is even a circus adaption to marvel at.
Make no mistake, Cirkopolis is not simply physical theatre – it is a circus. There are acrobats, a diabolo juggler and even a clown. There is the risk that a circus act on an end-on stage might be somewhat difficult to really enjoy, but any risk of that quickly evaporates when those watching see exactly what Cirque Éloize are capable of. Like all great circuses, Cirkopolis completely changes the ordinary person’s perspective of what incredible things the human body is capable of.
Acrobats defy death by sliding down poles, mercifully stopping just before they crash through the stage floor. Characters leap over desks and swing inside a massive rolling frame to trigger sounds of shock and ripples of applause in the audience. People leave with questions such as ‘how did she bend that way?’ or ‘can I balance on one hand on the back of somebody’s head?’ It is hard proof that anything is possible.
It is not just a disorganised explosion of entertaining talent. Cirque Éloize are retelling Lang’s story in their own unique way. By and large, those familiar with the film will be able to follow the love story that rose above social class. While it will not stop feeling like Lang’s moment of brilliance, Cirkopolis is nonetheless a genius manifestation of what circus can be and pays an incredible homage to the German expressionist.
Accompanying the staggering achievements of the performers are some top notch visuals that serve to make the whole experience of Cirkopolis all the more mesmerising. Film projections on the back curtain repaint the look of Lang’s dystopia, full of grinding clockwork gears and terrifyingly high skyscrapers. With the lighting being as dramatic and quick changing as it is, the technician can be imagined behind his desk as a kind of mad professor desperately concocting his latest experiment to the soundtrack of a manic laugh. It adds to what is such an intense experience throughout; from the moment that the performance starts, the performers never stop, never rest and seemingly never tire.
This is circus fulfilling its potential in a way breaking with tradition and expectation. This proves to be a mesmerising display of physicality and talent for expression. The audience smile, coo, widen their eyes and feel their jaws hit the floor throughout the hour and fifteen-minute running time. It’s a sad moment when it’s all over. The audience will never want to leave the enchanting world that plays out before their eyes.
Pleasance @ EICC (Venue 150)
Until 28th August
Image: VALÉRIE REMISE