Billed as circus performance the Cirque Inextremiste were appearing for the first time in Wales, presenting their newest piece Extrêmités, as part of this year’s Unity Festival at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff. Tom Wentworth witnessed the loud bangs, bright lights and spectacular surprises!
This is certainly a strong piece of programming from the Unity festival team who I hope will continue to be as a bold with their selections in the future. The three performers (one of whom performs from his wheelchair) constantly play with the audiences expectations with a series of stunning acrobatic feats, using props such as wooden planks and gas canisters. These are steadily piled on top of each other as slowly the tricks grow more daring, using both their solo and collective bodies. You could feel the energy surging equally out of both the performers and those who were watching - astounded. As the performance progressed further I’m sure that I can’t be the only one who was holding their breath as moments of white hot heat and almost suffocating tension, unfolded before us.
The Festival programme implied the show would have a narrative. Whilst the opening section did present a somewhat tongue in cheek depiction of disability with a loose story, I must admit that after a while I was too drawn in by the visuals to feel the need for a complex narrative. The performers clearly enjoyed working with each other, as well as trying to ‘better’ each other by working towards their physical limits. The movement sequences provided more than enough to keep you wholeheartedly engaged with the piece, which felt grounded and human rather than showy. It was also surprisingly humourous - particularly when a terrified looking member of the audience was dragged up on stage.
The piece ends where the set - so neat at the beginning – is almost completely destroyed and with a sense of palpable chaos but also revelation. I can only begin to imagine the exhilaration that the performers must feel after finishing the show each night. At the performance I saw, quite rightly, they had a standing ovation. Audiences had been prepared for surprises (and there are many which would be too difficult to set down on paper!) but I hadn't expected to laugh and even feel a sense of sadness when the performers left the stage and it was over.
Cirque Inextremiste have other dates in the UK and many dates abroad. I urge you to do everything within your power to catch this unusual and compelling spectacle.
To find out more about Cirque Inextremiste and to see some of their stunts on youtube go to www.inextremiste.com