It may share a piece of its name with the mega-giant, but CIRQUE ELOIZE stands apart and is unique even for those who are fans of ‘the sun’. ELOIZE leaves behind the lavish pomp-and-circumstance and opts instead to put its attention into the performers. What you get it an often funny, deeply moving and very human experience.
NEBBIA takes place in a village by the ocean, a village in which a great winter fog has rolled in on the day of a festival. There is no linear story; instead NEBBIA is a series of monologues, vignettes, and acrobatic acts, loosely intertwined, which revolve around a group of friends.
Gonzalo Munoz Ferrer is the ‘maestro’. He delivers most of NEBBIA’s dialog and does so with a tremendous amount of gusto. During the opening, he emerges from the thick fog with two companions and begins to speak about his love of sending people off with an exuberant ‘goodbye’ and the lost tradition of carrying a white handkerchief to accentuate the gesture. He reflects several times in the show about his family, his friends and the village. His speech is loquacious in nature but also poetic. He is instantly likeable and charming.
Stephane Gentilini here begins with a playful personage similar to his scene-stealing bottle-juggler in ELOIZE’s previous production RAIN. He then takes a turn into a more difficult role giving NEBBIA its most emotional moments, including a finale that may leave you with a lump in your throat. There is a whipping boy, literally, and he is Gustavo Lobo who probably garners the show’s biggest laughs most notably for his antics on the trampoline and during an acrobatic demonstration.
he acrobatics are superb but most incredible are the athletes who perform in at least two full acts and as many as four. Evelyne Laforest begins by twisting her body into impossible positions across a butcher shop table. She then joins Evenlyne Allard and Catherine Girard for some beautiful trapeze work. Then all three ladies mount a spinning aerial star with Joseph Pinzon and show off great strength and flexibility (Pinzon first opens the show suspended by a long saffron-colored silk which he uses to bend his body and plunge to the stage stopping just short of the floor). All this before they jump in for some fun on the trampoline with Gustavo Lobo and Jean-Philippe Cuerrier, who both perform an aerial strap act prior. Cuerrier then goes on to do a hand-to-hand routine with Girard. It’s really quite amazing when you consider the amount of physical and mental stamina must go into performing just one of these acts.
NEBBIA’s music goes from big and orchestral to casual and folksy. The bigger pieces of music are pre-recorded but there is live music which is performed by the stage artists. The majority is played beautifully by Andree-Anne Gingras-Roy and Nicola Marinoni who get their own silly-fun xylophone duet before abruptly being bombarded off the stage. The entire cast also performs a rousing bolas number.
The set is brilliant in its simplicity. A large, white fabric covers the background from top to bottom. It is illuminated to solid, bold, vivid colors and occasionally broken by a large point of light in its center which acts as a sort of sun. There are also long rectangular black pieces which slide in from the sides to break the solid piece into segments. Added movement creates the appearance of rippling water. The whole effect is striking. Afterward, I couldn’t help but wonder how a larger production wouldn’t opt to use an LED screen to achieve the same. There’s also a scene in which the stage is ‘letterboxed’, that is, there are two segments of the stage at top and bottom that are blacked out to conceal the action behind; very cleverly used.
NEBBIA carries a humble contingent of performers, eleven, and in addition to their individually honed skills, acrobatic or otherwise, they all have their own distinctive personalities. This is NEBBIA’s greatest strength; its performer’s ability to connect with the audience on a more personal level. As much as I have enjoyed the ethereal take on this genre, there’s something so much more absorbing about seeing these performers as just human.
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTJsbcdb4w0]CIRQUE ELOIZE NEBBIA trailer[/ame]
NEBBIA is nearing the end of its current North American tour and is off to Europe soon. However, like ELOIZE's previous production, it's bound to return so if you're interested keep an eye out! And if RAIN happens to come your way, do not miss that.