When a magician reveals how a particular trick is accomplished it often spoils the moment. Once we know how something is done, there's no longer any "magic" associated with it. Which is what makes Circle of Eleven's presentation of Leo so amazing. We actually see two rooms on stage, one projected, showing a tilted camera's perspective, and one normal. And, even though we're privy to how the illusion is being generated, it loses none of its charm and wit. This presentation by the Edison Theatre's Ovation series is surreal and amusing, and the acrobatics and athleticism needed to pull it off are simply superb.
This is basically a piece centered around a man, a suitcase, and a boxed in room he inhabits. There is a single light illuminating his space, and he uses chalk to draw some furniture and pets to accompany his lonely existence. What makes it work is not just the clever projections (video design by Heiko Kalmbach and animation by Ingo Panke), but the fact that the easiest moves create the most astounding visuals, while the ones that would seem simpler are actually quite difficult to pull off.
Tobias Wegner, who created the original idea for this unique hour of theatre, contorts his body in such a way as to make it appear he is able to float upwards, sideways, and upside down within the confines of this room. And yet, he's lying on his back for a lot of these stunts. It's quite astounding when you view these images side by side. Wegner creates a funny, but affecting character, whose trapped within his surrounding, with seemingly no way out. His suitcase provides him with musical interludes (sound design by Jean Gaudreau) that enhance the experience, and also a gives him a surprising escape route.
The show is at its most entertaining when his chalk drawings come to life, especially a goldfish bowl that fills the space with water, causing him to float and swim about. But, there are also many clever and intriguing camera tricks that add incredible dimension to the proceedings. The movements are eye-catching (choreography by Juan Kruz Diaz and Garaio Esnaola), and the effect overall is mesmerizing.
Director Daniel Briere keeps the action moving along at a brisk pace, and he's aided by Wegner's own considerable charm and his reactions to the goings-on that occur. Flavia Hevia's lighting and set design is a perfect complement to the movements, and Heather McCrimmon's simple costuming acts to keep us from being distracted from any of the business.
Leo is a real blast, very funny, but also very touching in execution. I brought along my young son and he and I laughed heartily throughout the performance. I can't wait for the next production in the Edison Ovations series, because they're always engaging, and they always manage to bring dazzling shows from the around the world to our fair city.