Dark Circus

Dark Circus
By and with STEREOPTIK (Romain Bermond, Jean-Baptiste Maillet)
Based on a story by Pierre Elie Ferrier aka Pef
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Seen on: 4.6.2016

The circus is in town, a circus unlike any other. The artists there are not only willing to risk life and limb for their show, they actually lose them. But hey, that’s what the audience came to see, isn’t it?

STEREOPTIK create animated films live on stage, partly using premade figurines, but mostly drawing with various materials (up to and including sand), building the world up and transforming its scenery over and over again right before your eyes. Everything is accompanied by life music. It’s fascinating to watch and above all, a whole lot of fun.


Dark Circus may sound like more of a horror set-up, but it is a comedy – a macabre one, that’s for sure, and definitely entertaining. As the circus artists get up to ever new catastrophes, you can’t help but laugh. But never more so than when they get to their great finale (keyword: disco tiger).

But while the story told and the circus show performed is a whole lot of fun, it is not the main attraction for the audience watching. Or at least, it wasn’t for me. It’s much more fascinating to watch STEREOPTIK at work. It starts with the simple admiration of somebody who can’t draw for the life of her watching somebody who can creating awesome looking images with (apparent) ease. But they don’t simply draw here. They sometimes draw with both hands at the same time. They use sand to build entire landscapes. And then they rotate the image or swipe over it once and suddenly it’s an entirely different thing.

darkcircus1The clever use of shadows and shadow puppets on top of that image magic and the excellent use of music really round of the picture. It is really astonishing that it is only two guys who do everything – you’d expect there to be at least two more. [On a sidenote, it was interesting to see this and Mi gran obra in short succession – two productions who put the creators directly on stage and into focus, although in very different ways.]

The entire thing lasts only an hour – and that is simply too bad. Even though they very nicely round off their show, I could have watched these two at work a long time more.

darkcircus2Summarizing: Awesome.

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