As the Canadian circus troupe The 7 Fingers (Les Sept Doights) close their London show ’Traces’ at Holborn’s Peacock Theatre this evening they’re sure to be celebrating what can only be described as a feat. The multi-talented heptad wove together a collage of scenes incorporating acrobatics, acting, musical talent, dance and art to demonstrate skill and strength with the greatest elegance.
We took our seats to a stage backdrop lit up by a live streaming of the audience filing into the auditorium courtesy of the reception security cameras. Real time projections continued once the show started, with Hou Kai's cityscape illustrations, created onstage, projected for all to see.
The acrobats had fun with their roles, at the same time as wowing the audience; talented gymnast Anne-Marie Godin balanced one-handed on her partners forehead, whilst other members of the team managed to jump through wooden hoops stacked five high. Given the ambition of the task, a couple of attempts sent some of the hoops flying, with the group proving that practise really does make perfect by succeeding in the end, to audience applause. The show also oozed personality, from the light-hearted introduction of each performer at the start to the chemistry seen between them throughout the show. The audience was also included in the action - with the group throwing a basketball into the crowd during a curated ball scene.
The storyline remained ambiguous, with sirens at times suggesting something sinister was on the brink of happening, not that it ever really did. The only allusion to the passing of time came in the form of 'tick tock’ audio. Having had the pleasure of seeing Cirque du Soleil in Paris I was accustomed to appreciating the quality of the action and talent regardless of the story. And appreciate I did; whilst Trace was much less polished than the likes of Cirque de Soleil, its gritty urban feel was really authentic. There was a raw, almost ‘behind the scenes’ vibe, and we’d have been forgiven for thinking that the group were rehearsing, as each member was always on stage - those not in the spotlight sat around waiting for their turn. That said, the technicalities were spot on, with clever use of light, shadow and colour creating great theatrical effect, and strobe lighting adding to the high-energy of the show. The movements of the beautiful muscular forms in front of us were also perfectly in time with the range of musical styles.
The tracing in chalk of outlines of the fallen performers was the only allusion I could grasp to the shows name. One of the team also alluded to his finger which was cut off by his sister - his remaining 7 fingers perhaps alluding to the troupe’s name. Traces finished how it started, with the final scene showing the view from the reception cameras yet again, this time showing The 7 Fingers cast, before the projection crackled out to white noise…closely followed by more applause and a standing ovation.