Review: Catch Me (Attrape-Moi) by Flip FabriQue (Underbelly 2017)

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375 years on, Quebec continues to stun audiences around the world.

All good circus acts comprise not only immensely talented performers, but also a distinct character that helps them stand out from the crowd. For new kids on the block Flip FabriQue, the prestigious Canadian circus circuit presents some serious legacies to live up to. It is to their credit then that not only does their latest show Catch Me (Attrape-Moi) achieve this, but almost certainly cements their status as new rising stars in the circus scene.

Flip FabriQue : Catch Me (Attrape Moi) Photo Credit: The Other Richard

The six-performer strong team of Flip FabriQue are no stranger to the circus scene – most of them have an impressive resume that boasts experience with the big names from the Quebec circus scene, including Cirque Eloize and the masters of modern circus themselves Cirque du Soleil. Directed by Olivier Normand, Catch Me establishes Flip FabriQue as serious contenders on the scene, breathing new life into acrobatic standards with the troupe’s infectious sense of fun and interestingly enough, family.

Flip FabriQue : Catch Me (Attrape Moi) Photo Credit: The Other Richard

Over the entire course of their 75-minute show, each of the performers exudes an immense, incredible energy, amplified by the apt choice of music in each act. In the well-choreographed opening sequence, the performers clearly prove where the show gets its title from as they propel themselves into the air through running jumps and sheer force of will, executing elegant backflips over each other and leaping off high-points. Although the show takes place in a relatively small space, the team makes full use of it, and the audience was kept at the edge of their seats as they displayed a keen sense of spatial awareness and juggled multiple acts simultaneously, from beatboxing, to tossing diabolos to each other while giving the batons airtime, catching all of them in perfect sequence.

Flip FabriQue : Catch Me (Attrape Moi) Photo Credit: The Other Richard

There is an elegance to Flip FabriQue’s craft that makes the entire experience feel deceptively effortless. Scored to The Cinematic Orchestra’s “To Build A Home”, Hugo Ouellet Côté ascends into the air via a length of aerial fabric as the rest of the troupe remain grounded, reminiscing on the past as they pore over old photos. Hugo glides through the air above them, angel-like as he manipulates the fabric, showcasing his strength and poise. The entire experience is tinged with an emotional edge that elevates it beyond acrobatics alone.

Flip FabriQue : Catch Me (Attrape Moi) Photo Credit: The Other RichardBesides the slower emotional drawl of some acts, Flip FabriQue also excels at infusing clowning into their performance. Founder Bruno Gagnon is established as the joker of the group. In his acts, he exudes an undeniable sense of fun that spreads to the other performers as well, bonding them as a family-like unit. There’s a strong element of play at work in Catch Me, as the troupe introduces seemingly innocuous items such as popsicles and sleeping bags, transforming them into creative elements of their act. Whether it’s balancing one member precariously atop another or bounding to ever greater heights on a trampoline, the troupe is all smiles and their energy easily washes over the audience, and it feels as if they enjoy performing for us as much as we enjoy watching them.

Catch Me, Flip FabriQue, credit Richard Davenport (9).
Catch Me‘s title suggests an inherent trust to support and carry each other through, a bond that spells the difference between a performance well done and a potential injury, with no safety nets present. What we witnessed tonight was a tight-knit family of performers, bursting with unbridled creativity and immense joy as they indulged in the gravity-defying, phenomenal feats that made up their show. Irresistibly charming, Flip FabriQue has no need for any fancy costumes, and are definitely one to look out for as they fill you with a sense of warmth and glee watching them flip and soar through the air, bouncing back each time with more vim and vigor than ever before with flawless timing, finesse and flexibility.

Photo Credit: Richard Davenport

Performance attended on 23/5/17.

Catch Me plays at the 2017 Underbelly Festival, London till 9 July. Tickets available here.

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