Enfila't: Folds

Enfila’t: Folds

The stage is a playground of visual delights. A backdrop of ruched and rumpled cardboard, a folding screen daubed with Picasso-blue squiggles and splurges, a giant metal cylinder that’s an odd cross between a German Wheel and a double-edged tightwire, and a kind of suspended roundabout that doesn’t look like it could hold the four acrobat-musicians and assorted instruments perched on its circular wooden base – yet does.

And what happens upon it is truly enchanting. A length of Sellotape becomes a twanged bass string, accompanied by a percussive scissor snip, and a paper-and-comb kazoo. Cardboard boxes grow legs, become home to a somersaulting Jack-in-the-Box, or turn into an Aunt Sally fairground stall (cue a delightful interactive game as scrunched-up balls of brown paper sail back and forth between auditorium and stage). A keyboard appears in the backdrop, played by disembodied hands. A banjo player walks a tightwire without missing a note. An accordionist weaves through folds of cardboard that mirror his instrument’s expansion and contraction.

Folds is a balancing act – physical performance with musicianship, the manipulation of fragile materials like paper and paint against the solidity of metal and wood. ‘Modern life thrives on organisation and precision, but in its folds and creases it still surprises’ it says in the programme notes – and our four entertainers use the hour or so that they have with us to charm and surprise with an exploration of materiality that challenges the delineation of circus skills, live music and object manipulation. Although the pre-show publicity places the emphasis on the play within the paper world, the performers’ interactions with the more solid objects – musical instruments, circus apparatus – are just as vital to the content of the piece.

Catalan based Enfila’t, like La Fura del Baus and Els Comediants before them, create a visual theatre rich in skill and playfulness. It is no surprise to learn that the piece was co-created by scenographer Xavier Ella – ‘design’ is not a tack-on element in this show, it is at the heart of the matter. The four performers have amassed a multitude of skills between them: Manolo Alcantara (the company’s creative director) is a renowned contemporary circus and street arts maker and a gifted performer; Xabi Elicagaray is not only a multi-instrumentalist and circus performer but also runs a second illustrator and designer. The hi-energy bundle that is Karl Stets (on loan from Sweden’s Cirkus Cirkor) and Argentinean Claudio Dirigo (aka Claudio Inferno), a beautifully bendy and fluid acrobat, make up the fab foursome. All have a lovely complicity with their fellow performers and with the audience.

It really is a magical show – hard to fault. There are deeper and more thought-provoking circus shows out there, but you’d be hard pushed to find anything as lyrical and endearing, and as visually and musically enchanting, as Folds. The perfect family show for all seasons.



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Dorothy Max Prior

About Dorothy Max Prior

Dorothy Max Prior is the editor of Total Theatre Magazine, and is also a performer, writer, dramaturg and choreographer/director working in theatre, dance, installation and outdoor arts. Much of her work is sited in public spaces or in venues other than regular theatres. She also writes essays and stories, some of which are published and some of which languish in bottom drawers – and she teaches drama, dance and creative non-fiction writing. www.dorothymaxprior.com