A young man moves across the stage, walking along a corridor of light, slowly and carefully placing each foot, his hands busy juggling three white balls in a tight little circle, the balls illuminated in the semi-darkness, and taking on a life of their own: a kind of automata; a perpetual motion machine.
The stretching and conflating of time is a strong theme in the piece. Once, time was seen as an absolute. Einstein’s theory of relativity changed all that, as science took on what philosophers and mystics had known forever: time is elastic. Anyone who has known a moment of crisis has the experience of everything almost standing still as the impact hits. Or, on a more mundane level, of time whizzing by when we are busy. And of how time shifts as you age – at one point we hear a voice-over of recorded text, in which an older person says ‘ …how fast it flies…’
In this adept and accomplished solo piece that combines object manipulation (of the circus sort) and dance (of various sorts, including contemporary and hip-hop), Clement Dazin explores time and motion. At times he leaps and flies and spins, sometimes without, but mostly with, one, two, three, four, or more juggling balls in tow. He leaps, he catches, he dives. At other times, he moves the juggling balls with almost unbearable slowness around his body, kneeling to the side of the empty space, a focused light highlighting his pale face and hands, and the white balls that slide along his arm or around his neck. A beautiful chiaroscuro painting in flesh and light. The lighting design throughout is minimal but beautiful. Corridors of light, squares of light on the floor, a row of blue lights at the back of the stage, beams of light focusing on the performer. Often, Dazin stops moving and just stands in the light. So good to see peace and quiet on a stage!
The excellent soundscape (by Gregory Adoir) supports and complements the physical action. A drone, a cello. Murmurings of crowds, and the occasional short burst of recorded voice. Ticking clocks and ringing bells marking the passing of time. The traffic sounds and sirens from outside add an interesting random layer of sound design. Life goes on, outside and inside the tent. Although talking of tents, it does seem that this show belongs in a regular theatre space with proper blackout, not a circus tent that has been disguised as an end-on black box studio theatre.
I read in my programme notes that Bruit de Couloir is inspired by NDE (Near Death Experience). Which isn’t particularly clear when you watch it, but makes sense once you know.
A thoughtful piece of work, expertly performed by Dazin, who is a graduate (2012) of the National Centre of Circus Arts in France. – and it is always good to see quiet, reflective circus work. At just 35 minutes, a brief work – but feeling complete. Time held captive for a short while, a welcome respite from the hurly burly of life at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Bruit de Couloir is presented by Crying Out Loud and Vive le Fringe! at Institut Francais d’Ecosse as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2015.