Il N’est Pas Encore Minuit translates to “it’s not yet midnight” and is the creation of french circus collective Compagnie XY performing as part of the Perth International Arts Festival program.
The huge cavernous stage at the Regal Theatre is revealed bare bones. 22 performers drift on dressed in hues of grey, beige and white seemingly everyday clothes. What starts demure soon erupts into a 22 person brawl. Elements of West Side Story, the melee between the Jets and the Sharks springs to mind. Each movement, tumble, throw and landing are perfectly timed and precise. For the next hour we are treated to a wonderful display of strength, balance, concentration and above all, trust.
What is so amazing with these performers is their ability to seem lighter than air. From forming 3 person human towers marching around the stage in harmony, to somersaults of epic proportions. Each landing so delicate, you barely hear them touch the ground. Such is the control over their bodies. The only sound is the gasp of the audience.
The beauty in these choreographed movements are the transitions. Each wonderfully stylised and flow effortlessly, one into the other. There is always connection between those on stage, it could be a hug, a touch, a pat on the back, a knowing glance. Pause and silence, so often under-utilised, create stillness and calm before the astonishing work starts over again.
Free of the usual circus trapeze apparatus, except a lone springboard, the performers use their skill and trust as the safety net for those flying and twirling through the air. Elements of parkour emerge as large wooden boards are used to balance, leap, throw and catch performers, all to the amazement of the receptive crowd.
There are some wonderful characters amongst the performers. With a healthy helping of French humour, a beautifully emotive soundscape and eclectic choreography we are watching much more than excellent circus skills, we are witnessing a cleverly conceived and delivered performance.
Seated close to the stage you did miss some intricate foot work and elements of choreography as sight-lines from the first 8 or so rows you are viewing ankle up. I recommend seating further back in the auditorium on the incline.
The theme of this performance is collaboration. In a world focused on individualism a short emotive
speech after curtain call leaves us with working alone we go faster; working together we go further. And this troupe are certainly a testament to this mantra.