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Review of Séquence 8: lots of raw talent but a slight lack in focus

Séquence 8 premiered this summer as the Complètement Cirque festival’s opening act, and it’s now back in town after touring the States. Its title could refer to several things: it’s Les 7 doigts de la main’s eighth production, it stars eight acrobats and, most fittingly, "Eight Sequences" are screenwriting rules for setting up tension, obstacle, and resolution in a narrative. The show explores the skeleton of narrative without having a narrative. Instead of having a theme, it deconstructs and makes fun of the generic storylines that many circus acts evoke (for instance, the classic love triangle).

What we get is the simplicity of act after act spotlighting the remarkable talents of a young and charismatic cast, without costumes or sets: David Henderson, Colin Davis, Tristan Nielsen, Camille Légris, Ugo Dario, Maxim Laurin, Eric Bates, and Alexander Royer. Directors Shana Carroll (acrobatic performance designer for Cirque du Soleil’s IRIS) and Sébastien Soldevila (7 doigts de la main co-founder) were also behind the company's cabaret shows, featuring many of the same performers, often in similar acts.

Credit: Luce TG

But having no unifying look or message can be tricky to pull of. Nothing glues the acts together other than a tongue-in-cheek spirit and an MC (Davis)—although this MC doesn’t really describe the action. The performers are all recent National Circus School alumni. When it lags, the show has the feel of a graduation show. It’s disjointed. Ideas seem tentative, experimental (in one momentum-killing act, electric tape is stretched all across the stage and into the audience like a web). But, as with a grad show, there’s a lot of raw talent on display.

In the end, the camaraderie and energy of the performers carry the show. There is rarely only one person on stage, and even solo acts are framed by flourishes from supporting performers. Clever recurring imagery and a good dose of humour also keep the show fun—if a little lacking in focus.


Séquence 8
Until November 17
La Tohu | 2345 Jarry East | tohu.ca