Saturday 20 August 2016

Paramour - Review

Lyric Theatre, New York


Directed and conceived by Philippe Decoufle

Samuel William Charlton, Myriam Deraiche and Martin Charrat

With Paramour, Cirque du Soleil widen their scope venturing into musical theatre and incorporating dialogue and songs sung live alongside their signature circus wizardry.

Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood (and Broadway) and dripping in Art Deco themes, the plot is faux film-noir. Indigo (Ruby Lewis) is an actress, a small town stunner who is new to LA and looking for her break in the movies. A.J. (Jeremy Kushnier) is the mogul director who not only casts her as his new found star, but also wants her for his wife. Throw in Joey (Ryan Voner) a humble studio composer on the picture who falls hopelessly in love with Indigo as she does for him and the scene is set for a classic, corny love-triangle.

Before purists of the genre dismiss the plot as predictably shallow, remember that corny de-rigueur in noir-based musicals. Consider City Of Angels and Sunset Boulevard, both shows that offered the potential for stylish song and dance numbers, but only when set against a backdrop of cliché-riddled plot. 

Visually of course, the show is hallmark Cirque. Clever use of live action projection (black & white of course) emphasises the cinematic theme, whilst a beautifully choreographed ensemble break into tap routines at the drop of a (top) hat.

For the skimpiest of reasons the plot shifts around the studios' backlot, from sound stages filming a Cleopatra themed routine (outstanding aerial strap work from Andrew and Kevin Atherton) to a Wild West hoedown and, after the break, a nightmarish zombie invasion. The story's creakiness however is matched only by the Cirque troupe's excellence, a high spot of the second half being the hand-to-trapeze act of Samuel William Charlton and Myriam Deraiche with Martin Charrat on the ground, depicting the passions of the ill-fated trio.  

It may be the actors who top the bill, but it is the Cirque artistes that are Paramour's stars. The closing routine, played out across New York rooftops as the bad guys, clad in vividly coloured suits (think of Batman's Joker and Riddler) chase the heroes, is jaw-dropping in its impossible simplicity. Using discreetly positioned trampolines and their world class artistry, the performers literally fly themselves across the stage and up its walls. There are no wires or ropes at this point, just exceptionally choreographed human endeavor. In a modern movie the scene would be a green screen CGI creation, here it's for real.

Back in the Golden Age, audiences flocked to musicals to be wowed by spectacular routines, perfectly performed. Bravo to Cirque du Soleil for restoring that magic to Broadway.

Booking until February 2017
Photo credit: Richard Termine

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