Have you ever wanted to see a mountain of junk piled on top of a person? How about a stage set falling apart before your very eyes? Well, look no further than the funny, inventive circus arts show L’Immédiat at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Created by French circus performer Camille Boitel, L’Immédiat is part of the inaugural Tilt Kids Festival, a cultural festival for families presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).
L’Immédiat features a troupe of incredible performers including Boitel, Marine Broise, Aldo Thomas, Pascal Le Corre, Thomas de Broissia, Marion Lefèbvre, and Jacques-Benoît Dardant, who run around on stage, jump behind large black screens, and throw themselves and found objects around with abandon. There is acrobatics, clowning, cross-dressing, and a whole lot of props. In fact, the first 15 minutes of the show, the audience watches as the set quite literally falls apart. Tables collapse, lights and stage pieces fall from the ceiling, ladders fall over, their rungs falling out from under the feet of the climber. At one point, a bunch of empty plastic oil drums come down in a clatter. A tower of boxes 20 feet high avalanches into the chaos.
And then the company proceeds to clean it all up in a hilariously meta sequence in which brooms are utilized to push all the detritus backstage, the boxes are thrown to the side, and a curtain falls to create a whole new stage setup in which the props were never there at all, all in the span of just five minutes. In some ways L’Immédiat is like a magic show in which the audience is made to suspend reality to watch some scene unfold that tricks the eye. A woman seems to be floating against gravity as her fellow illusionists try to bring her down, finally wedging her under some furniture to keep her from floating away. A wardrobe with a false back is opened repeatedly to reveal a different person behind it, but then the person you just saw reappears somewhere completely different.
The technical aspects of the show are quite astounding. The ensemble does an amazing job with the construction and deconstruction of the set (with Thomas de Broissia and Martin Gautron), and a light show accompanied by a soundscape (by Jérémie Benoît Finker) halfway through the show adds to the magic. The performers work perfectly in sync with each other so everything is like clockwork. Their physicality is fluid and flawless.
L’Immédiat is not a kids show. Rather, it’s a truly sophisticated performance for families that both kids and adults can enjoy. Come for the circus, stay for the feats of technical prowess.