I am very pleased to report that French circus company Circa Tsuica making its Welsh debut was an absolutely wonderful event, beginning with percussion entertainment in the foyer provided by primary school members of Codi’r To, a local community project. We then entered the theatre which was pretty much full, with many families and young people in the audience.
Center stage was a very large, rough see saw, constructed of a very large plank balanced on what looked like a few bricks. To the right was a smaller see saw. The show began with the entrance of the band leader, who charged up the 30 or so young musicians of Band Ysgol Tryfan, all dressed in red, seated either side of the audience. This had the effect of creating a warm, convivial atmosphere from the start.
The rest of the seven-strong band of Circa Tsuica entered in a line from stage right, moving in unison whilst playing their instruments, eventually all mounting the see saw, which inevitably tipped. We all knew it would tip, but the anticipation of the moment when this would happen was deliciously shared amongst audience and performers. All the while, the sax player is balanced on the thighs of the drummers; all continue to play. The scene dissolves into a trumpet and clarinet face-off to what sounds like the score to El Mariachi. The clarinetist ‘dies’ and falls into the front row of the audience. A megaphone serves as a microphone to heighten comedy moments and the show is punctuated with increasingly bizarre hat tricks performed by the band leader.
Great comedy was derived when the only female in the band was fired into the bell of the elephantine sousaphone, and got stuck to strains reminiscent of Cat Empire. Other highlights were the cloud swing, on which the clarinetist swung wildly over the front rows of the audience almost taking out the other band members, and the cyr wheel artist whose performance was like watching liquid flowing around the stage. A crowning moment was the creation of a three high (three people standing on each others’ shoulders), culminating in the woman on top playing her sax. But perhaps my favourite moments of all were when the trumpeter was left holding all the instruments whilst the rest of the band wandered off and when the female trombonisits from Ysgol Tryfan all descended into the splits on stage… still playing!
The musical and physical skills of this company are remarkable, as is their delightfully playful and inventive creativity. The company members met at Circus School and now live as a community in a small village called Saint Agil, between Paris and Nantes, that is, when they are not touring the world sharing their particular brand of magic.
The crowd went wild, the performers invaded the audience in the encore, walking on the seats, and Band Ysgol Tryfan invaded the stage. A truly delightful and infectiously anarchic evening.