A Canadian circus with street smarts blends theater with thrilling acrobatics.
The New Victory Theater has been home to many talented circus troupes who infuse their acts with fresh ideas and provocative theatrical stylings. Perhaps one of the most interesting and heart-pounding of these is Flip FabriQue, a sextet of young, highly skilled Canadian acrobats (entertainers, really) whose 75-minute show Catch Me! (Attrape-moi) is now running at the New Victory.
Flip FabriQue locates its show in an urban landscape, with a three-story apartment-building set, designed by Élyane Martel, in the background. Six friends, five men and one woman, meet in front of the building during a rain storm. But when the rain soon stops, the fun starts as the show's six performers begin to show off their acrobatic chops. The first act functions as a warm-up for Jérémie Arsenault, Jade Dussault, Bruno Gagnon, Christophe Hamel, Françis Julien, and Hugo Ouellet Côté before they launch into a series of exciting scenes fueled by heart-pounding music that runs the gamut from classical to hip-hop to Barry Manilow's "Copacabana."
Kids get excited first with a mind-boggling juggling act, only in this case the balls are juggled by Arsenault and Gagnon bouncing them off the floor. Dussault also does some snappy hula-hooping, with around a dozen hoops; youngsters have probably never seen anything like it before. The tone changes for numbers like "Aerial Straps," in which Ouellet Côté shows off his sheer physical strength by holding onto straps and creating a solo aerial ballet high above the stage.
Several of these acts take the form of short theater pieces, such as the previously mentioned piece in which the other performers look through photo albums and then place photos of themselves on the apartment-building wall as Ouellet Côté soars above the stage. In this way the performance becomes more than a feat of acrobatics, but rather a meditation on memory and the past. That might go over the heads of some kids, but it's this sort of inventiveness that makes Catch Me! stand out from other shows of its kind.
Soon enough, though, it's right back to the eye-catching action. Gagnon, who knows how to get kids laughing, teases talented guitarist and singer Julien as he juggles and bounces balls off Julien's guitar. Gagnon later does some of the highest flips I've ever seen, landing in the hands of his fellow acrobats like a bird gliding into its nest. But it's the trampoline finale, where Arsenault and Hamel make jaws drop with their seeming ability to fly and touch down on the top of the building like Superman that results in a wide-eyed audience.
Catch Me! is solid family fare that keeps kids ages 4 and up thoroughly entertained. Throughout the show, children were attentive and engaged with the performers (it's fine for kids to verbally interact at the New Victory), with one delighted spectator exclaiming, "What're they gonna do next!" It's that sentiment exactly that makes the show one worth catching if you can.