‘Scènes Étranges dans la Mine d’Or’, by Studio Phantöm

Review from: CIRCa Festival, Auch; October 2022

This review was written as part of a module on the BA Circus degree at SKH. You can read more student reviews from CIRCa here.

This review is intended towards families wondering if the show is appropriate to go to together, as well as parents wondering if the show is suitable to see with their children and young adolescents. It is also intended for adults wondering what type of show it is, to set expectations and act as a guide to know if this show fits in with what you are interested in seeing, and if you should buy tickets.

Scènes Étranges Dans La Mine d’Or by Studio Phantöm, directed by Elsa Guérin, is a historical juggling show intended for the ages of ten and upwards. The show takes the audience on a chronological journey showing juggling in different historical settings, starting in ancient Egypt, and working its way through
our history. The start of the show shows the three female jugglers, Caterina Boschetti, Sarah Bourhis and
Mathilde Robin, slowly and purposefully resembling old Egyptian drawings, and together with the dimly
lit stage and slow, almost hypnotic music and voice over describing in French what is happening on
stage, they set the feeling and I felt excited as to what they were going to proceed with.

The problem came quickly with the continuation of the show – it never changed. The dimly lit stage, the
slow movements from the jugglers, and the hypnotic voice did just that, it almost hypnotized me to
sleep. I had to constantly fight to continue being interested in the performance, and even so I must be
honest that the part of the show where I had my biggest reaction was when the young adolescent
behind me started loudly snoring, and I started looking to the sides to observe the state of the audience.
All the people I saw had their head leaning slightly forwards, resting heavily on their hands, and with
varying degrees of closed eyes.

Throughout almost the whole show there was low technical quality in their juggling, and my guess is they
wanted to accurately portray the images and historical context of what they were resembling. I say
almost the whole show, because in the second half there came one heavier juggling part, and I daresay this
is when the audience was at its most attentive. This part carried a slightly faster tempo than the rest and,
based on the audiences’ faces, stood out as a clear contrast. Sadly, for me as a person familiar with
juggling and juggling technique, it also highlighted the low level presented by the performers. However,
impressing me and impressing a person non-familiar with juggling is not the same, and although I just
critiqued the presented level, I want to clarify that the audience around me stopped resting their faces
in their hands, and instead watched eagle-eyed and intrigued at the presented juggling. Sadly, as close
the performers were to breaking our trance, they seemed to choose not to, as before we were given time
to clap or react and take that last step out of the trance they directly continued back into the same
tempo, light and hypnotic voice as earlier, making the audience yet again fall back into our daze.

One thing that added a little zest of interest was the show being done by only women. Female jugglers are heavily under-represented in the juggling community and depicting the history of our world through only women’s bodies and women’s perspectives was something I was expecting them to play with, but as far as I saw and understood with my limited French they did not. And, as much as I respect not having to make everything with only women on stage become a gender thing, and that normalizing it just being like that is completely valid and good, it was something I was expecting in the show’s historical focus.

In conclusion, I want to tell you that if you are wondering if this is the type of show you want to bring your
kids to: Don’t. If you are interested in juggling or history, or are interested in a slow hypnotic experience
you can find pleasure in watching this show. But it is not the type of Saturday entertainment show you
want to go to with family or friends for a fun joyful evening. Even if it is advertised as ages ten and
up, I would urge you against bringing your twelve-year-old there, unless they are a particularly contemplative sort. Be aware of and ready for the flat tempo and, with that expectation in mind, I think you can have an interesting, soothing night watching the show.

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