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Title: Reversible

Written by: Gypsy Snider

Genre: Circus-Physical Theatre

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Director: Gypsy Snider

Choreographer: Gypsy Snider

Actors: Maria Del Mar Reyes, Vincent Jutras, Jérémi Lévesque, Natasha Patterson, Hugo Ragetly, Émilie Silliau, Julien Silliau, Emi Vauthey

Company: The 7 Fingers

Venue: CAA Theatre

City: Toronto

Year: Runs until Jan. 6, 2019

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rating

3.5 out of 4 stars

The German wheel part of the play Reversible.

Cimon Parent

Very late in Reversible, an elegiac show of theatre, circus, dance, music and acrobatics, a scene happens at a clothesline. Laundry represents invisible people from the past – trunks without heads, legs without feet, flat and empty humankind ready to be filled by people in the present. A song played: “If the world can spin backwards and we’re running out of hours, would you care?”

The composition is Reversing the Day, a central theme to the performance from The 7 Fingers, a Quebec-based troupe consumed with humanity and excited by physical expression. For Reversible, eight handsome and supple performers retraced ancestral journeys – a kind of reverse engineering for the soul. Balls were juggled, hoops and windows were jumped through, a seesaw act was something to see, lives were saved by the strength of an arch of a foot, and, by god, what was with the whip anyway?

It all made for genuine entertainment, as deep and metaphorical as one requires. The performers did elegantly perilous things for our amusement and sometimes even to frighten us. Are they paid well? They should be.

Reversible began with each of the performers alternating at a single microphone stand, voicing something from a family history. Past generations left families and countries, lived through wars, etc. “In the end, what did you hold onto?” someone asks an ancestor. “What should I?”

For the purposes of Reversible, the performers held onto anything they could: A rope, a German wheel, an aerial silk tissue. Often they held onto each other.

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The eight international artists were all capable, but if one were to single out one of them, it would be Émilie Silliau, a French performer trained at Le Centre des arts du cirque Balthazar. She has an old-fashioned, early film-star look to her and an impish tragicomedy appeal. She also seemed quite at home on top of a Chinese pole.

The cloud part of the play Reversible.

Flying Canadians Vincent Jutras and Jérémi Lévesque were experts on the Korean plank. When one of them teetered, the other tottered. It’s the best way.

Elsewhere, Spain’s Maria Del Mar Reyes was marvelous at doing things on one hand that most sane people wouldn’t imagine doing on two. One scene had her fumbling at a door with a purse full of keys, struggling to unlock something. Perhaps the past.

The scenery consisted of ever-shifting walls with plenty of windows and doors, sometimes exterior and sometimes interior. The latter consisted of wood paneling and awful curtains. We’re still trying to make sense of the choices made in the 1970s. It’s a sad, puzzling universal theme.

Most of the recorded music accompanying the action is original, at turns wistful and energetic, with various styles often juiced up with contemporary beats. A tango piece went well with a scene involving a whip and fan. Another piece, Ten Thousand Years, was Cohen-esque. Musically attentive audience members would have recognized snippets of hits by Terence Trent D’Arby and Johann Sebastian Bach.

An old wall-mounted rotary-dial phone was part of the interior settings. Surely the youth in the crowd were confused, but the phone was just a prop. We heard the dial tone as a phone call was dropped, a disengagement from the past being a sad sound. With a dreamy juggling act and hoop-jumping drama, the 7 Fingers company promotes reconnection.

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Reversible runs to Jan. 6, at CAA Theatre. (mirvish.com)

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