Theatre Op De Markt, 3rd November 2013
A field of carefully tended helium balloons sits silently and still upon the stage, while two white juggling balls discretely hint at the skills of Lento’s performers. The collaboration between Brazilian Luis Sartori do Vale and Finnish Olli Vuorinen, resulting in Company Nuua, takes both their circus school training and their visual artistry, to create an hour of wonder that keeps all ages entranced.
The first encounter with the two performers showcases their masterful sense of timing and physical storytelling; with a ball perched precariously atop each of their heads, they attempt to acknowledge each other in a comically revealing manner. Vuorinen’s nervous energy presents a great contrast to the seeming resignation and apathy of Sartori and, as they begin to drag each other without resistance through the enticing crop of balloons, I am reminded of the relationship between Didi and Gogo in Beckett’s classic, Waiting for Godot.
Sometimes working to help each other, sometimes appearing to sabotage the other’s game, the two men create their own sense in a non-sensical world, where an unending chorus of balloons become dancers in their own right. The manipulation of strings, air-flow, gravity and sound is precise, elegant and fluid, with a constant stream of surprises. The elements of new magic which combine with the dextrous and innovative juggling are a further treat, as we try to discern ‘just how do they do that!’
The floor microphones that amplify squeaking shoes, chinking metal magnets and bodily contact emphasise the isolated otherworldliness of the onstage universe, and blend neatly into Petteri Rajanti’s neo-classical soundscape. The music is evocative, and adds energy to the gentle show, particularly during the construction of a magnificent big-top – using only balloons and clever lighting – which receives a spontaneous applause.
Crowds of feather-light companions are reminiscent of the charming airborne carrier-bags of Cie Non Nova’s L’après-midi d’un Foehn, and the well-crafted incidental humour that features throughout the piece keeps us fully engaged with the human performers as well. The intricacies and precision that have been practised and played over a thousand times are treated as new discoveries, and the whole show is as magical an experience as you could hope to encounter.