The slogan of Québécois circus troupe FLIP Fabrique is, ‘we do circus’. But from what I saw at Transit, the show that’s currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on London’s Southbank, to call FLIP Fabrique circus performers would be like saying the Taj Mahal is a large white building. Both facts are true. But Transit’s cast of five men and one woman managed, in one short hour, to make us gasp in awe, roar with laughter, and glow with joy. Transit was so much more than simply circus.
What is FLIP Fabrique?
FLIP Fabrique is a small circus troupe from Québec City, in Canada. The performers are French speaking, and the small amount of dialogue in Transit moved between French and English. It was a performance about travel. Transit opened with the men of the troupe trapped inside a packing crate. Solo female Jade Dussault unleashed the box and the five men all came tumbling out, a tangle of sinewy muscle, dreadlocks and beards. The crew were on the road, waiting for an Air Canada flight that was delayed…and delayed…and delayed. Luckily for us. Because while they were waiting, the circus buddies entertained themselves by practising their skills of juggling, diabolo-tossing, aerial gymnastics and hula-hooping.
Transit’s cast of beautiful hipsters wouldn’t look out of place in a craft brewery. But their jaunty energy, from Jérémie Arsenault‘s lithe cheekiness and Jasmin Blouin‘s merry backflips to Jonathan Julien‘s solid strength, suggested these athletes lived a life of rigorous training rather than boozy hedonism. Their CVs are impeccable, with stints at Cirque Eloize and Cirque du Soleil. All that training and experience seems to have produced a bunch of fun-loving demi-gods. I lost track of the number of hula hoops the toned Jade Dussault sent whirling round different parts of her body. And there was an appreciate cheer from men in the row behind us, when Pierre Rivière took off his top to show off his taut torso, before gyrating magnetically on the aerial straps.
What age is Transit suitable for?
Naked torsos notwithstanding, Transit is most definitely a family-friendly show. It’s recommended for children over six, and the storyline is a fun take on friendship. Our seven- and nine-year old were screaming with laughter at a sequence where the cast theatrically spit wads of bubble gum into each other’s mouths. They also enjoyed watching Pierre Rivière in a fat suit, throwing doughnuts into the audience, then launching into a comical version of his earlier breathtaking aerial routine. The performers weren’t shy of pushing against their own barriers. The couple of dropped diabolos and snagged skipping ropes were a good lesson to the youngsters in the audience. If you pull back from a super-daring sequence in case you don’t manage it perfectly, you’ll never improve. Instead, the tiny number of drops were dealt with in good humour, and only added to the fun camaraderie on stage. The FLIP Fabrique cast were working at the edge of what’s humanly possible, and their excellence shone through.
Transit is a beautiful, joy-filled show
The thing that struck me most about Transit was its beauty, created with a clever use of props. The cast juggled with clubs of glowing rainbow colours, and skipping ropes shone neon bright. The closing sequence was breathtaking. Cascades of lime and citron balls leaped around the performers, as they bounced off a trampoline and somersaulted up and down a wall of packing cases. This graceful dance up and down the trampo-wall looked almost as though it was being played in slow-motion. It must have been incredibly hard work for the cast, especially after an hour of extreme physical exertion. But the performance was smooth, and joy-filled to the last. We came out buzzing, happy to have had the opportunity to see such a magical show.
If you want to watch a snippet of Transit by FLIP Fabrique, here’s a trailer:
Where can I see Transit by FLIP Fabrique?
Transit by FLIP Fabrique is at Underbelly Festival, London until 7 July 2019. Ticket prices begin at 21GBP. We were gifted tickets for the purpose of this review. For more information see the Underbelly website.
If you’d like to find out more about what’s on in London this summer, check out our guide.