Cirkopolis at The Mayflower

Matt Jones as Rudyard Kipling and Lynn Pegler as his wife Carrie.

Playwright brings Kipling’s story back to Hampshire

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This sums up the DNA of Cirkopolis – the fluidity and pace of a dance, the discipline and spectacle of a circus, and with an emotional pull that kept audiences entranced.

Lea Toran Jenner’s performance with the cyr wheel, a metal hoop just larger than herself, brought this hybridity to its logical conclusion: graceful, skilled, beautiful yet understated.

It is testament to the energy of Cirque Éloize that no performer just walked on stage – apart from contortionist Maria Combarros, who walked, climbed and jumped (by way of aerial splits) on the hands, shoulders and heads of other performers.

Inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the production’s style matched its substance. A projected backdrop transported us into various scenes of dystopian industrialism, and the lighting – moody and angular – cast distorted shadows and dazzling spotlights, a lovely nod to the expressionist cinema the piece mined for inspiration.

An unexpected highlight was clown Ashley Carr, who proved to be more than just a compere in his set piece, which had the charm of the best Pixar short. You’d never think a grown man dancing with a dress on a hanger would be so heartwarming. Until Saturday.