Come one, come all to the greatest show on earth. But it is not your mother's Ringling Bros. Or Cirque.
Thanks to a big thumbs up by Telluride Inside…. and Out's regular Denver writer Tracy Shaffer, last night we all headed with our family to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to catch a performance of "Traces," a production of "7 Fingers." The evening proved beyond a shadow of doubt that "7" is a very lucky number.
"7 Fingers" (for the seven founding members of "Les 7 Doigts de La Main" or "the seven fingers of the hand") is Everyman's circus, eschewing elaborate and fanciful Big Tent production values to create circus on a human scale – but with a sexy urban edge.
The first show created by 7 Fingers was "Loft." "Traces" moves from that form of city dwelling to the womb-like safety of an eclectic bunker, a place to hide from a world in which airplanes fly into buildings. ("Traces" was created not long after 9/11.)
The cast of "Traces" includes 7 classically trained, extravagantly dynamic circus performers, who possess all the requisite circusy moves. The ensemble had the acrobatics, complete with catch and release, down pat, but the group upped the ante with dance – we saw, um, traces of Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, rap, even some references to Gene Kelly and the Zeigfeld Follies – physical comedy, spoken word, interactive video, live DJing, and street forms such as skateboard, basketball, and parcours.
In other words, "Traces" claims new theatrical turf.
What 7 Fingers has created is a hybrid of theatre and circus with a sexy urban edge. It is all about extraordinary feats of physical derring-do laced with barbs and moments of extreme vulnerability: a performer knocks down a hoop as he sails through, but tries again and succeeds. In other words, "Traces" is all about the human condition: the juxtaposition of dark and complex moments suggesting an all-Caps urgency (there is even a reference to a murder) relieved by instances of unbuttoned joy. And the highly intelligent, intricate script leaves not even one red herring flapping about on the beach.
Throughout "Traces," the audience hears a ticking clock. Life, the show, passes all too quickly.
"Traces" at the Stage Theatre runs through May 14.