Under the direction of Massimiliano Rossetti, Circus Space alumni Lost in Translation utilise a skilled multinational cast to bring this story of a failing hotel to life. An immediate sense of engagement is encouraged by the well-constructed pre-set, with a Bellboy welcoming us in to the space, and a Concierge interacting playfully with audience members called onstage to assist him with hotel duties, all underscored by atmospheric music created by multi-instrumentalist Roger Eno.
Following this set-up, the storytelling remains very clear throughout, particularly via the Concierge’s continued direct address to the audience. The conceit is that the hotel is losing money following the tragic ‘bucket-related’ death of its founders, and the remaining members of staff and the enigmatic Madame are desperate to save it, battling two sinister Banker figures to remain open in the face of a series of ever-increasing disasters.
The escalating conflict is illustrated by dynamic circus sequences including acrobatics, aerial work, stunning feats of balance and endurance, juggling and clowning. The company advertises itself as a ‘proper old-fashioned contemporary circus company’ and this flavour is clear: the story is the wrapping for this spectacle, with some theatrical sprinklings on top. These include committed physical characterisation, and elements of farce (used to particular effect in a delightfully ridiculous sequence involving moving doors becoming obstacles to thwart the bankers’ progress). Of course, farce by its nature is a traditional form, and one sequence involving the Maid being rather passively passed between the Concierge and Bellboy who are seemingly in love with her did jar a little for me in terms of contemporary values around female agency, as tongue-in-cheek as it was.
By contrast, a high point was a section involving Madame in a state of deep despair, frantically trying to drown her sorrows in wine that she could never drink due to having to deal with a series of hula hoops being attached to her. This section communicated particularly well because it contained a clear narrative journey, and stakes which heightened throughout, as opposed to some sections which seemed more a vehicle to showcase physical dexterity above all else, and sometimes were rather lengthy, if impressively executed. Yet this is perhaps unsurprising, in what is ultimately a circus show aimed principally at families, who certainly engaged well with these moments, and the spectacular surprise denouement in particular was a real highlight.
Featured image (top) Lost in Translation Circus: Hotel Paradiso. Photo Trevor Fuller