A funhouse mirror takes what we know and expect to see and turns it on its head − often literally − swelling it, squeezing it, making it simultaneously hilarious and disturbing. In an attempt to tackle humanity’s relationship with the Fall of Man, ‘Circus of Life’ holds that mirror to the audience, but the mirror is a little foggy.
Pernille Garde’s latest work is a string of vignettes about sin told through sparse narrative and intricate dances performed by two sinewy, dynamic and often hilarious circus performers. A maddened disembodied voice, presumably “temptation”, cackles at and prods them along their path into temptation, but it’s all a bit murky. And bizarrely equivocal, really.
First, we are told to behold the “disgusting creature” of a woman who is having sexual relations with many, many men. Lust, presumably.
Next is a spoken letter: “Dear Anders Breivik …” It heaps admiration on him and goes so far as to say: “I wish you’d killed more people.” Most terrifyingly, the letter is written in blood. Wrath.
And then a little girl is run over and left to die by 18 passers-by before somebody helps her. By then, it’s too late. Sloth.
Lastly, the two performers come out and parade around in costumes of random plastic baubles before launching into a tirade against humanity’s material obsessions and inevitable environmental doomsday. Greed and gluttony.
The idea behind ‘Circus of Life’ is a good one, and the choreography is like nothing I’ve ever seen. However, the vignettes are sporadic (they forgot about envy and pride), and the ghostly narrator silly and clichéd. Perhaps humanity should look in the existential funhouse mirror, but all I feel like doing is getting some cotton candy.
Circus of Life