NOMADE directed by Daniele Finzi Pasca (Cirque Eloize/Mirvish). Canon Theatre (244 Victoria). To May 20. $30-$84. 416-872-1212. See Continuing Listings. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Cirque Eloize shares with Cirque du Soleil a common Quebec origin. But the former is what the latter used to be before it went, in several ways, Las Vegas.
In other words, Eloize is a small-scale company presenting circus thrills without fancy technological gimmickry. It connects with its audience's collective heart and imagination in a way the larger troupe rarely does these days. This troupe invites us to share in what amounts to a warm, extended-family celebration.
There's a sense of wonder and magic in Nomade , Eloize's latest show, subtitled At Night, The Sky Is Endless. With its curtain of stars and a huge moon as backdrop, it offers, along with the circus numbers, a series of wedding images that counterpoint its theme of broken romance.
Director Daniele Finzi Pasca and the company of 18 give the traditional acts - balancing, trapeze, gymnastics, juggling - a touch of sweetness and the occasional dreamlike moment, aided by first-class lighting and a live band that includes several of the circus performers.
At its best, the piece is simple and intriguing, high-energy acts alternating with surreal, Fellini-esque episodes. My favourite involves acrobats Lena Ries and Eric Saintonge , she twirling around above the stage in a suspended hoop and he whirling around the floor on another, the moon backdrop echoing the circular shapes in front of it.
The show's dragged down, though, by the clowning duo of Pablo Gershanik and Bartlomiej Soroczynski , who work too hard for too few laughs. Thankfully, Soroczynski's also an expert unicyclist; his seductive tango number shows off the performer's real skills.