Leo - Circle of Eleven’s new physical theatre show
Show juxtaposes projected film and live performance to comic effect
This article is from 2011.
Leo, the latest piece from Berlin theatre group Circle of Eleven, is a must for fans of visual and physical theatre. Indeed, fans of Aurora Nova – the late, lamented mini-festival of visual theatre, which ran on the Edinburgh Fringe from 2001–2007 – will not be surprised to learn that the producer of Leo is Wolfgang Hoffmann, who was co-producer of Aurora Nova.
The show, which lasts for approximately an hour and is currently previewing ahead of its world premiere at the Fringe, juxtaposes projected film and live performance. In both we see our titular hero (played brilliantly by Tobias Wegner) engaged in a series of identical activities. The only thing is, the two Leos are in totally different gravities. If the filmed Leo is standing on the floor, for example, the live Leo is standing, at a 90-degree angle to his filmed counterpart, up against the wall.
The results are impressive, touching and, often, very funny. They are also charmingly reminiscent of early silent cinema artists such as Charlie Chaplin. Wegner, who trained in clowning from the age of 10, explains that Leo brings together the physical skills he learned as a child with an early technology. ‘The show emerges from a 60-year old, but still effective, camera effect that I used for a short clown act in 2008.’
The piece has already previewed in Montreal to great acclaim. How does Wegner account for the success of his quirky, little show? ‘Certainly it’s humour, in the first instance,’ he says. ‘It’s also the fact that such different skills (painting, music, dance, acrobatics) are used by the same character. Ultimately, as unreal as the situation is, I think people feel they can identify with Leo.’
Leo, St George’s West, 225 7001, 8–29 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 8.30pm, £11–£13.50 (£9–£11). Previews 5–7 Aug, £7.50.