Arts: Senses ablaze in acrobatic love triangle

CIRCUS: QUE-CIR-QUE HIGHBURY FIELDS LONDON

NOTHING QUITE heralds summer like an evening inside a small tent listening to the mesmeric drops of rain on canvas. But just fancy! All that atmospheric fun can be had without resorting to the Glastonbury mudbath. No scrabbling in the dark for lost tent-pegs, and home afterwards to use your own loo. Bliss.

The French circus Que-Cir-Que have pitched up on London's Highbury Fields for their UK debut at the Islington International Festival. Forget the raucous chainsaw-wielding excess of Archaos, or the baroque spectacle of Cirque du Soleil; this is a minimalist operation, offering elegant action with a cast of three.

Their big top is really a small top, enclosing a serene, white space with a central, black wooden stage. Hear every breath, every squeak of rope or twang of elastic; watch every bead of perspiration, every shimmy of muscle in this intimate arena of precision choreography.

A loose narrative charts the antagonistic interdependence of the trio of performers, trapeze artist Emmanuelle Jacqueline, strongman Hyacinth Reisch and clown Jean-Paul Lefeuvre. This is an exercise in human geometry, physical and emotional: a love triangle within a circle. They court each other with sensual displays of skills, toy with acts of mutual sabotage, but know they are bound by an inescapable inter-reliance as they use the others' bodies as support, weight and counterweight to achieve perfect balance.

Lefeuvre, in snug white Y-fronts, is shaven-headed, with an expression like old man Steptoe's. A somewhat demonic incubus, he scuttles up and down the central tent pole, hanging upside down like a fruit-bat or swinging like an orang-utan just out of the strongman's reach. Foxy Jacqueline teases her suitors with sinuous acrobatics, wriggling inside a bodysuit cut to reveal perhaps the sexiest back in show business.

Prancing haughtily on point shoes, she becomes the circus pony, flaming hair tufted into perky feral ears. Then, skimming the floor, she whistles round on the low-flying trapeze, performing all the gymnastics you can't usually appreciate when they are 60ft over your head. Snatches of sleazy jazz from Miles Davis wind round croaky samples of Tom Waits; percussive coughing, drums, ice-crisp Gaelic chanting, mix with flickers of live serenades from Reisch and Jacqueline.

Lefeuvre circles the stage on a white bike, with no pedals or brakes, aimed at an audience member near you, propelling the bike by swimming the air with his arms. A minute later, he's juddering down the tent-pole like a toy woodpecker down a stick.

Finally (and now we know why he's been saving himself), Reisch spins in on a giant black hamster wheel. Like the man in Leonardo's anatomical diagram, the goateed strongman tumbles the wheel through 360 degrees, before wrenching it from a vertical to a horizontal axis like a spun coin. Subtle, sensuous and highly skilful.

Highbury Fields, London N5, until 5 July. 0171-288 6700.

JUDITH PALMER

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman as Doctor Who and Clara behind the scenes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cheery but half-baked canine caper: 'Pudsey the dog: The movie'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce leads the MTV VMA Awards 2014 nominations with eight

music
Arts and Entertainment
Live from your living room: Go People perform at a private home in Covent Garden

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
MasterChef 2014 finalists Charley Boorman, Wayne Sleep, Sophie Thompson and Jodie Kidd

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Trade unionist Ricky Tomlinson (right), later a television actor, attends a demonstration in London, 1975
theatre
News
The three-time Emmy award winner Elaine Stritch
peopleStar of stage and screen passes away aged 89
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor