Reversible at ArtsEmerson is a Must-See Circus (5 stars)

by Johnny Monsarrat

They are circus performers, but it’s more than a circus show. The 7 Fingers visits ArtsEmerson again this year with Reversible, based on research on the family history of the performers’ pasts.

I enjoyed Cirque du Soleil this week, but it’s built in a standard way: independent performers from all around the world do separate acts that clearly predate their joining the circus, dressed up with costuming and set design to hint at a story.

7 Fingers is different. Much of the time the entire cast of 8 members is on stage, and they play with the props and staging in a way that looks organic, and feels chaotic, spontaneous, and effortless. Of course it must be carefully choroegraphed, but it doesn’t feel that way. It seems to be the result of hundreds of hours of playing around with the staging rather than prefabricated acts brought into the show. As a result, it’s much more effective storytelling, although most scenes lack dialogue to help you along.

Great use is made of lighting and music to change from a domestic scene to a boat on the water, and other settings. The three pieces of staging, on wheels, roll around to add to the flow as the acrobats tumble, juggle, and play comic acts and they jump up and down and through the pieces of staging.

You’ll be stunned by some of what they came up with. One performer stumbles acrobatically in a bridal dress. They climb a giant pole, jump on a seesaw, run through and under a giant parachute.

The show is 90 minutes without an intermission. An easy 5 stars and a must see.

Reverible runs through September 24 in Boston. See http://artsemerson.org/Online/article/reversible