The second feature I ever wrote for the Dig was a Cirque du Soleil write up on our website’s now-defunct blog. The show was Cirque’s OVO, and my article only established four things. First, there’s a big fucking egg. Second, Miss Thang Ladybug can’t love Jim Carrey until he gets over his addiction to bug spray. Third, it would be really cool to watch the cast have a crazy acrobatic orgy. And finally: mimes.
Confused? That’s perfectly normal. Cirque du Soleil doesn’t make any sense.
The shows all have a theme, but the Quebecois powerhouse’s only real concern is showing off the singular skills of its performers. That’s where Les 7 Doigts de la Main, or “Seven Fingers of the Hand” comes in. Since 2002, the fast-growing Montreal-based troupe has been building a reputation as the anti-Cirque du Soleil.
The company’s name is a spin on the French colloquialism, “five fingers of the hand.” The expression of unity represents Seven Fingers’ goal to connect the individual acts of its gifted performers, creating a more elaborate and cohesive whole. “Cirque du Soleil has stories,” said ArtsEmerson Executive Director Robert Orchard, “but they’re not necessarily as tightly-woven as [those of] Seven Fingers.”
After seeing the Montreal and London premieres of PSY, the troupe’s fourth traveling show, Orchard worked with Seven Fingers to bring the show to Boston for the United States premiere in January. It was such a success that ArtsEmerson invited the company back for its current extended encore.
“It’s exciting,” Orchard said. “This is actually the first ‘back by popular demand’ show we’ve had.”
With PSY (pronounced “P-S-Y” to avoid sounding like “sigh”), Seven Fingers explores the idea of overcoming mental illness from the vantage point of a psychiatrist’s office. The patients perform acts of circus representing the subconscious struggle and victory over their maladies: mania, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, hypochondria, amnesia, addiction and paranoia to name a few.
“They do parts together and parts individually,” Orchard said. “It reflects the problems we have in the real world and how others help us to overcome those problems.”
While the performers may not have the diseases they embody, let’s not discount that they’re still crazy.
They’d have to spend their lives constantly trying to one-up themselves with even more complex and dangerous stunts, only to perform them every night. Does being French Canadian count as a mental illness? (For the purpose of clarification, most of PSY’s performers hail from France. Le Mothership if you will.)
Pleased with the draw these crazy Canadians have, ArtsEmerson plans to continue its relationship with Seven Fingers by bringing more of the company’s current and future shows to the Boston stage. “At the end of PSY,” Orchard said, “when the performers step forward and take a bow, you know each one of them, and the journey you’ve gone on with them.”
PRESENTED BY ARTSEMERSON
TUE 7.12.11-SUN 7.24.11
CUTLER MAJESTIC THEATRE
219 TREMONT ST.