Directed by Alexandre Fecteau, Transit is an hour of energetic, creative and humorous circus skills from Quebecois troupe FLIP Fabrique. Interweaving a multitude of disciplines ranging from hula-hooping, acrobatics, juggling and trampolining, Transit is a tour de force and a celebration of physical strength, troupe solidarity and the joy of ensemble performance. 

The name of the piece relates to a fairly flimsy throughline; the troupe are on a delayed journey home to Canada. This, however, is quickly deviated from and soon we are celebrating a birthday, marvelling at a pregnancy and finally throwing underwear at a rock concert. The flexibility of this storyline is one of the quirkiest charms of Transit; whilst joining them on their long journey home, the audience share a brief snapshot of the performers’ personal journeys. Alongside them on their respective journeys we dream, we marvel, we celebrate. 

The staging is fairly simple: large crates provide a backdrop and are occasionally clambered on or opened up. This instantly places the human body as the main tool at the troupe’s disposal and leaves us in no doubt at their unmatchable skill. At times Transit seems totally fluid and improvisational, at others rigorously meticulous and precise. Consequently, the energy never falters once and the spectator is consistently in awe at the skills displayed, whilst simultaneously entertained and moved. 

The highlight of the evening is Jérémie Arsenault’s playful and elegant diablo. The marvel at Arsenault’s skill and speed is matched totally by his total command of the stage and audience interaction. It is an entrancing few moments of performance which never falters once and evolves from a simple routine into a bold, beautiful and breathtaking segment. 

Perhaps the most joyous aspect of the entire performance though, is the camaraderie between the six performers. When tricks occasionally do not go according to plan, there is nothing but smiles and shrugs onstage between the troupe. This is far from disappointing and simply adds to the magic of live performance and illustrates the complexity of the skills on display. 

Outside the circus tent, the audience can hear the chatter of the Underbelly Festival and the bustle of the London Southbank. Far from distracting from the performance, this backdrop of real London life enhances the human element of the storyline, making this seem like the perfect setting for FLIP Fabrique. The performance is relaxed yet scrupulous, emotive yet witty and above all a beautiful experience to share as an audience. It is impossible to leave without a spring in your step, a smile on your face and a new found desire to buy a diablo…

Transit is on at the Underbelly Festival until 7th July.

Images © FLIP Fabrique