Loft – fun in pyjamas to Jun 8 at Granville Island Stage
Go see this show!
1) It is fun, sexy, and exciting.
2) You will be awed by what the human body can achieve; you will laugh, clap your hands and shout; your breath will catch in your throat.
3) You enter the auditorium through a fridge.
And that’s about all you need to know.
What’s that? I’m supposed to write some more?
OK. You asked for it.
I once conceived a proposal for a television series that had nothing more than a working title: Girls in Pajamas. I thought that was about all I needed to sell it to one of our softly salacious cable networks. But heeding Shakespeare’s “The better part of valour is discretion,” I refrained….
In Loft, not only the girls but also the boys are wearing a diverse amalgam of sleepwear/underwear that suggests both the playful innocence of a child’s sleepover and the seductive experience of a brothel.
It’s the circus in a bedroom. With a DJ.
There are impressive sequences of acrobatics and dance, feats of skill and strength; all with a modern, urban edge to them and executed to a driving, energetic, beat provided by DJ Pocket. Memorable among these are a routine performed with childlike exuberance (and consummate skill) by a man and a set of foam stairs; and an episode of group contact improv, reminiscent of Schnitzler’s La Ronde, that morphs sensually from one pairing to another.
A routine on hanging tissue is unavoidable in circus and here it is adept and slinky, but grows in stature when its echo occurs: the second time we see a woman wrapped and hanging suspended from the ceiling, she is wrapped not in soft, suggestive red fabric, but in industrial chains. The sound of the chains clanking and grinding, as much as the sight of the hard metal wrapped around soft flesh, conjures a darker, more disturbing set of fantasies.
The captivating centre of the show is undoubtedly the big and small show performed episodically throughout the evening by Sebastien Soldevila (big) and Patrick Leonard (small – he also does the bit with the foam stairs among other things). They are magnificent – enormously strong, enormously skilled, and compellingly charismatic. So much so, that even in this loft filled with girls in pajamas, I was watching the men.
In the show’s finale on opening night, we were treated to an extraordinary example of circus ethics – We’re going to give you a big finish even if it kills us.
If you’re going to see the show don’t read this until later.
For the finale, Leonard (small) climbed onto Soldevila (big)’s shoulders. He stood there with a spool spinning on a string, flung the spool high into the theatre’s fly gallery, did a back flip and landed back on Soldevila’s shoulders, and almost caught the spinning spool back on the string.
Leonard grinned winningly and said,
- It is an old circus trick, missing on purpose to build suspense,
Soldevila gave him a look that had more than a little steel in it, as Leonard again climbed on top of his shoulders: again the spin, the fling, the flip and landing, and … again the miss.
There was some light-speed, non-verbal communication between the two, the gist of which was:
- One more?
- OK. One more – but you better catch the damn thing this time.
As he remounts, Leonard looks to us and confides:
- Catching the yo-yo isn’t the hard part.
We laugh, cheer, hold our breath.
Again, up on the shoulders, spin, fling, flip and land… miss.
We groan, and then give them a big round of applause for the attempt, willing to let it go.
But something else is happening. Soldevila (who looks huge beside Leonard) says:
- My turn.
Leonard looks heavenward, braces himself, then, impossibly, Soldevila climbs and stands on his shoulders. This so defies any imagined limits of physical human strength that we are aghast. Soldevila, standing on the small man’s shoulders, starts spinning a spool on the string. He flings it in the air and tries to catch it behind his back. Miss.
They are both sweating heavily now. Their breath is coming in gasps. Somehow we have become ancillary to the event. It is between them now, them and the stunt.
Once more, big climbs on small. The spool spins. Up behind the back, and … Miss.
They are both spent – unable to attempt one more – but in the never-say-die tradition of circus performers, there is still something up their sleeve. They call one of the technicians from backstage, introduce him, and hand the string and spool to him.
Although he is proficient, we are all of a sudden reminded of how difficult it is to simply balance and spin the spool on the string. The two panting, sweating, men along with the rest of the company – all of them sexy, wearing their white underwear – cheer and encourage their friend the technician. He is wearing his working blacks, and doesn’t have the performer’s sunflower instinct toward the light, but on the second attempt he achieves the behind-the-back catch. The sound flourishes. The technician waves, returns backstage, and we are treated to a full energy, singing, dancing, final number. We stand and cheer throughout.
After the curtain call we are invited onstage for pie. I catch up to Patrick Leonard and say:
- That was remarkable. How often do you have to hold him like that?
He looks at me, and smiles:
- If I miss three times, I deserve to have to hold him.
_A Magnetic North Presentation. Loft is performed by The 7 Fingers/Les 7 Doigts De La Main: Patrick Leonard, Sebastien Soldevila, Francois Isabelle, Meaghan Wegg, Marjorie Nantel, Emilie Bonnavaud, Faon Shane, DJ Pocket._