Les 7 Doigts de la Main, which hails from Montreal, “is the anti-Cirque.” The show is small and intimate, with amazing feats of acrobatic routine.
Union Square TheatreNew York(800) 982-2787
One can be forgiven for groaning at the prospect of yet another avant-garde circus troupe from Montreal invading New York, said Jeremy Gerard in Bloomberg.com. After all, “isn’t that where Cirque du Soleil comes from?” But don’t be fooled—this show by Les 7 Doigts de la Main “is the anti-Cirque.” Though it features its own amazing feats of acrobatics, it aims for intimacy instead of sensory overload. Its loosely structured tale unfolds on a small stage “draped in khaki material, lit by traffic lights and street lamps”—as if we’re meeting the seven-member group on some derelict urban corner.
The performers actually overshare, introducing themselves with “the sort of stats and personal descriptions found on Facebook pages,” said Ben Brantley in The New York Times. We learn that Mathieu Cloutier was born in 1986, that Bradley Henderson weighs 160 pounds, and that Philippe Normand-Jenny’s parents are both psychologists. Then, just when they’re most humanized, they become superhuman. A fight sequence looks like a scuffle among pals—“if those pals happened to be, say, the X-Men.” A skateboard dance assumes “Busby Berkeley–like configurations.” Throughout, cast members exude “a playful, puppyish androgyny” as they “vault, roll, spiral, and (I would swear) levitate over and around one another.”
What makes the show unique is its “sly, silly humor,” said Frank Scheck in the New York Post. No sooner is troupe member Florian Zumkehr done executing “an amazingly rigorous acrobatic routine” than he pulls out a guitar and strums a ballad. Also amusing are Valérie Benoît-Charbonneau’s attempts to read a book “while physically battling an uncooperative recliner.” By comparison, the performers’ “efforts to ingratiate themselves” feel forced. “They really don’t need to speak at all. They express themselves most eloquently through the sheer joy they exhibit while pushing their bodies to the max.”