Photo – Viviana Cangialosi
Sometimes when you marry two separate concepts something new and beautiful is born: nature and man made material; dance and music; wine and cheese... There is something so perfect in the concept of marrying the artistic style of Salvador Dali with the theatre of acrobatics. Acrobatics and contemporary style circus already promote such a feeling of surrealism that it only seems natural Dali could be the basis for a show: La Verita delivers this perfect pairing in a crazy, creepy, comedic circus setting that is sure to keep you amused and almost certainly confused.
Against the backdrop of Dali's 'Tristan and Isolde' two performers argue over the painting itself: one for it's beauty and the other; their contempt for the piece. He is calling out, “Sometimes you think something is ugly but it's not ugly, it's contemporary!” as she is storming off stage to demand an audience of the director. This definitely sets the scene of a show that bends gender, creates confusion and inspires awe, complete in a flurry of feathers, sequins and over-sized Napoleon Bonapart-esque hats.
So much credit must be paid to Daniele Finzi Pasca who is not only the production director but also the author, lighting and co-designer of choreography. Having previously directed performances of Cirque Du Soleil, Finzi Pasca has got that contemporary cirque skill down pat and with the help of set and prop designer Hugo Gargiulo, La Verita finds a way to intertwine simplicity and surrealism in every facet of the production. Simple warm lighting contrasting bold blacks, reds and blues shadow the performers in such a way that you feel you are immersed in the dream-like surrealism that Salvador Dali is so famous for. Everything from the lighting, the costumes and even the piano has somehow been 'Dali-fied'. You are confronted with a Matador fighting a bull's head mounted on a bicycle, a troupe of gender-bending ballerina's donned in Dali masks and a dozen towering dandelions swaying gently as a double-jointed contortionist dances with a life-sized doll, much to the audible cringe and gasp of the audience.
The acrobatics are astounding: aerial performers that swing and swap turns from a watching eye as a crew sing on the piano beneath. Ladders that suspend from seemingly nowhere are threaded with performers that move like molecules in a DNA strand. Aerial performers suspended from a spinning box move weightlessly like insects on a branch: you become so lost in the beauty and awe of the acrobatics you barely notice that rhino...
Just like Dali's work, this production is a dream-scape of surrealism. Nothing seems to make sense and yet everything just seems to fit together. There is constant confusion to detract your focus and attention from the main event. Every act has a distraction: if you are watching the curious contraption that the performers are weaving and rolling around in, you're bound to find that rhino again. If you're watching the Diablo juggler, of course red diablos fall from the sky like their very own version of ‘100 Luft Balloons'. Not confused yet? Now it's raining 1000 wine corks. What a whimsical, wondrous dream you are having!
One minute you are swept up in the musician's smooth snippets from the Nutcracker Suite on a table of wine glasses, next minute you are giggling along with the audience while the resident 'clowns' entertain you with at least half a dozen costume changes in a matter of minutes. There is so much going on to attract and distract you throughout this show; it's a raucous, well thought out mixture of muddled thoughts, musical talent and comical Can-Can dancing. Never a dull moment, even the crew's final bow with a slow walk towards the front of the stage, each performer holding a solemn gaze with the audience: powerful as the acrobatic performers themselves.
La Verita means 'the truth' and the truth is; this is a perfect marriage of art and cirque in a dream-like setting. It was almost sad to wake up when the house lights came on. Like any good dream, you spend the rest of day trying to figure out what it all means.
2016 Brisbane Festival
Compagnia Finzi Pasca
Director Daniele Finzi Pasca
Venue: Queensland Performing Arts Centre - Playhouse
Dates: 20 – 24 Sep 2016
Tickets: $52 – $42