Opus 7 is a kaleidoscopic blend of circus and brass. Describing their genre as 'Fanfare burlesque', Circa Tsuica, the troupe that conceived the show, are loud, wild and unaccountably fun.
Circa Tsuica are a small part of the French collective, Cheptel Aleïkoum, a group of circus performers that live together in a tiny village in Western France. They've been performing together for more than 10 years, the current Opus 7 show being born in 2012. Opus 7 is a stream of wonderment, packed with excitement and vivacity, flitting seamlessly through its different colours. Moving from defiant balancing to beautifully-crafted clowning, to the overtly impressive tumbling finale, the troupe grab attention and refuse to let go.
The show is structured as a series of shorter acts, requiring the whole ensemble, just a few performers or a solo trick. Because every performer also plays in the band the dynamic is constantly shifting, reinforced by the sonic texture. The troupe is primarily made up of clowns - mixed with some acrobatics and other circus tricks - and the delicate manipulation of comedy hinges on every single aspect of the performance. We expect slapstick physical humour and it's ably delivered, but it extends to the instruments and the music. There are ensemble pieces where one player is loaded up with all the instruments, still being played, and a stomp-style percussion section with bouncing men holding cowbells up to those holding beaters. The humour extends musically: so often tunes end abruptly, or take comedic pauses, aligned with the action. The consummate attention paid to the entirety of the performance was flawless.
The show, although short, required a feat of concentration. Every performer has created a different character within the flurry of movement, and the eye is drawn everywhere at once. There might be 3 people bouncing on a seesaw in the middle of the stage, but there will be five others tumbling or clowning around behind them. The level of detail is astounding and compelling.
Opus 7 is full-on and constant; every so often you step back and realise what you're seeing: a ripping euphonium solo performed while standing on the top of a 3-person tower. Playing at their level is hard enough when you're standing still, but when they're flipping through the upper reaches of the Playhouse and manage to carry on without a break you truly appreciate how hard they work, and the immense quality of their show.