Opus 7 – Oxford Playhouse, Oxford

Writer: Cheptel Aleïkoum

Director: Circa Tsuica

Reviewer: Katy Roberts

Making their debut tonight in Oxford, Circa Tsuica arrives at the Playhouse in a riot of rhythm and a cacophony of colour, right from the moment the lights go down. The creation of Cheptel Aleïkoum, a collective of French entertainers, Circa Tsuica is the perfect family showand a wonderful introduction to the wild world of the circus!

Imagine performing breathtaking acrobatic feats; balancing on a see-saw with ten other people, or being propelled several feet into the air, somersaulting, and landing back on safe ground again, standing upright. Now imagine trying to do all that and playing a musical instrument at the same time!

Circa Tsuica’s brand new show, Opus 7, is truly engaging, the performers full of boundless energy and enthusiasm, winning the audience over after the opening act, which sees the entire company (a group of 11 people, each playing musical instruments of varying sizes, from a flute to a trombone!) play a rousing brass number, all while balancing precariously upon a wooden see-saw.

It is this suspense which works so well to capture the audience’s attention, because, behind these blazing brass beats, there’s some serious circus skill here. A particular highlight is the act involving one of the male members of the company, who performs an outrageously impressive routine involving a weighted hula-hoop.

Where the show falls down, however, is the point at which the finale has taken place. The group move into their encore, where the company are joined onstage by the Oxfordshire Dixieland Jazz Band, to perform several brass band numbers, using a technique known as soundpainting. Unfortunately on this occasion, after finishing the main show on a huge high, with rapturous applause from a captive audience, this encore went on for far too long, and as such, the feel-good high dissipated among the audience, with several audience members (most with young children) leaving the performance before its end, as the show had run beyond its designated 60 minute run time by almost 30 minutes. This was a real shame because the performers had really earned their applause throughout, but the appearance by the local band felt more like a tacked-on performance as a nice gesture, rather than a coherent part of the show itself.

This is a promising UK debut by this group of eclectic and engaging performers, sadly let down by a misjudged encore.

Runs until: 3 March 2016 | Image: Vincent Beaume

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