Paris de Nuit sets high expectations based on its previous global success, venue choice and ticket price. From Hungarian production company Recirquel, the show is an enthralling mixture of cabaret, dance and burlesque that creates audible ‘wow’ moments and leaves this reviewer’s watch well and truly unchecked for its duration. Glitzy, sultry and spellbinding, Paris de Nuit is a tour-de-force that is well worth the ticket price.
The production is inspired by the work of famed Hungarian photographer, Brassaï, who dramatically captured Paris by night during the 1930s. The most obvious nod to this inspiration is the use of “flashbulb” effects at the close of each section as if to capture the dynamism of each performance in snapshot-form. Upon entry, the auditorium immediately sparks intrigue. Vanity-style lightbulbs surround mirrors at the back of the stage, which reflect the audience back at itself. Similarly styled footlights around the perimeter of the stage operate dynamically, responding to the action on-stage. These are high production values, which correspond to the price of the ticket. A special mention should also go to the stage management, with performances carried out near the front of the stage which effectively distracts the audience while props are slickly changed in the dark behind them.
The musical themes help to conjure a smoky, kaleidoscopic Parisian world into which the audience is drawn. The performers’ abilities assist with this. Group dances occur alongside spirited tango, burlesque and aerial acrobatics, and there are even some vocal performances. This show embraces the spirit of cabaret. Hip-hop elements also feature in one dance, which is an intriguing, if slightly out-of-place moment in what is otherwise a show that aims to create a 1930s aesthetic. As one professional burlesque dancer tells the reviewer, burlesque is a medium which requires careful attention to detail in order to fully engage the audience. In this case, the burlesque elements feel somewhat like a side-show to the engaging and jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics. It is in these high-jinks moments that the show finds its stride. Despite a couple of minor mishaps, the juggling section is also mesmerising. The vocal performances are welcome additions that add texture to the performances, although they could be imbued with a little more emotion beyond the acceptable technical ability displayed.
The standout segment comes towards the end of the show. Set to an exquisite piano-based musical piece, a single performer scales a pole suspended from the gantry and performs delicate aerial acrobatics while using the pendulum momentum to circle the performance space. A calmer, hypnotically emotional performance is needed at this point, and it appears just in time.
Overall, Paris de Nuit’s pedigree sets high expectations. Their skill and production quality more than justifies this, with the show successfully creating an engaging world for the audience to descend into.
Paris de Nuit is on at Assembly Hall – Main Hall (Venue 35)
Until the 25th August, 22:30 (except Mondays)
Tickets are available here
Image: Nagy Attila