Saloon – Cirque Éloize: Peacock Theatre, London, 5 October 2017

Bar tender is not the night

‘Ok, we’ll split the difference.’ Justine Methé Crozat gains the upper hand with Jérémy Saint-Jean Picard in Cirque Eloize’s Saloon. Photo by Jin Mneymneh

There are a couple of major issues with Cirque Éloize’s newest work, Saloon. The first may not be their fault – the music in The Peacock Theatre was cranked up way too loud for such a relatively small space, the sound quality was poor and you could barely make out a word that was being sung by the on-stage band. The second problem was that the narrative of rival cowboys vying for the same woman was so scrappily flung together that it didn’t really make much sense.

Mind you, when you have a group of performers as multi-talented as this lot, these flaws aren’t as problematic as they ought to be because the Company simply dazzle you with their physical abilities instead.

As you might imagine, we’re in the Wild West for this one so cue lots of hat-flipping, twangy American accents and shameless hoe-downing, all against a backdrop of a wonderfully adaptable wooden set. It runs at a hectic pace (too hectic at times) but it’s the individual acts that give the goose its pimples.

Particular highlights were the mind-boggling cyr wheel spinning of Shena Tschofen (the weight placement looked like it should have been all wrong but she simply defied gravity), the incredible hand-to-hand acrobatics of Justine Methé Crozat and Jérémy Saint-Jean Picard (the way Crozat pirouetted on her hand when upside-down above Picard’s head was both stunning and beautiful), and the spectacular teeterboard finale (packed full of somersaults and crafty manoeuvres along the plank). A special mention must also go to Johan Prytz who’s listed in the programme as an acrobat but proved himself an extremely funny mime, although his numerous routines could have done with stronger punchlines.

There were plenty of other ‘ooh’ moments – some blatant crowd-pleasers but other more subtle delights too – and it’s all performed with such charm and energy that Saloon is hard to resist.

Saloon runs at The Peacock Theatre in London until 21 October 2017. Tickets can be found on the Sadler’s Wells website, as can a video clip of some the show’s astonishing feats.

Gerard Davis

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