The smell of popcorn, the buzz of people chatting, and the spring sunshine pouring in through the great glass windows of Camden Town’s renowned performance and music venue, The Roundhouse, set an atmosphere of excitement for what proved to be a truly invigorating performance.
The excitement in the air was met by Cirque Mandingue, a Guinean troupe of death defying acrobats, contortionists, musicians and dancers who will have you on the edge of your seats from start to finish.
The storyline is not the strong point of the show, and even felt a bit unnecessary, like something thrown in at the last minute. The show is called Fote Fore, which translates to Black White, and is about a white tourist, played by a Mr Bean-like dancer and body popper Regis Truchy, who comes to Guinea and tries to compete with the acrobats, only to be out shown in pretty much every way imaginable. His physical ability is nothing in comparison to the well toned, flexible and effortlessly cool Guineans. At one point two of the Guinean acrobats and the tourist have what I can only describe as a ‘muscle-off’, and of course the significantly less fit tourist is out shown once again, and gets a few cheap laughs at his expense.
Nevertheless, despite the poor plot, the troupe really know how to please a crowd; after somersaulting off the top of a four man tower one acrobat stops and gives the crowd a cheeky grin, and then leaps off to do a few more somersaults with the ease of a man taking a walk in the park.
Abdoulaye Keita, the contortionist, balancer, dancer, juggler and strap artist deserves a special credit, for his beautiful solo performance that combines dance and contortionism with the grace of a ballet dancer. You won’t be able to stop yourself from gawping in amazement as you watch his spine move as if it was made of elastic, and his legs flip over his head as if they weren’t attached at all. In fact you have to see it to believe it!
If seeing a man defy the limits of gravity and the human body isn’t enough to convince you, go for the energy. Sweat is constantly dripping from the performer’s bodies onto the stage floor, but they still manage to belt out songs at the top of their lungs. Their energy levels are relentlessly high throughout, and it is contagious!
Watching acrobats leap across the stage, gasping as their heads miss the floor by inches and then sighing with relief when they stand up and take a bow, gives me a feeling of child-like elation. There is something about going to the circus which always brings out my inner child. Fote Fore is the first show to open Circusfest 2012, a five week festival hosting the best in contemporary circus from around the world, and I highly recommend you go and check it out, who knows you might find your inner child too!
Performed at the Roundhouse Theatre.