TIMBER!!! Watch out for the grand fir tree ready to collapse at any given moment! There’s nothing quite like the great outdoors, however during these winter months, we may all beg to differ. An arduous, yet rewarding lifestyle, picture spending your working day heavy lifting, carving and chopping wood in order to literally create a roof over your head as well as to make a living… I’d imagine many of us would prefer to visit our local well known branded store than to even consider the alternative. Cue Timber! a show that infuses a sense of fun and vitality to the lifestyle and profession.
Courtesy of Cirque Alfonse, the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre welcomes the outdoors setting of a Canadian Forest onto the ample stage. A wood cabin, surrounded by a multitude of different sized wooden panels and tree stumps beautifully litter the stage. Even before the performance has started, anticipation for the production is high as the obstacle course environment leaves the audience questioning. The production begins, and continues with bursts of song, reiterating the importance of reciting canadian folklore reminding the community of their history. Music is the life force for both Lumberjack culture and the production and always succeeds in raising the audience’s spirits.
The ensemble endears with their strong sense of community. Cirque Alfonse, a circus troupe comprised of family members hailing from the lumberjack tradition fuse the circus arts with brilliant comedic timing. Antoine Lépine-Rifleman, Jonathan Casaubon and Francis I. Roberge all display feats of impressive strength and balance as they comically roll and dance on logs, tumble from daring heights onto mattresses and juggle axes in duos, trios and quartets. Julie Rifleman-Lépine mesmerises with her nimble yet powerful footwork whilst clog dancing on a table lifted by fellow cast members, her unquestionable lyricism and strength as she effortlessly climbs and spins on a swing, and her undeniable stage presence as she powerfully hits a cowboy’s whip against a wooden table.
A show that takes time to really get into its stride, Timber! jostles between ‘quieter’ and ‘wow’ moments. The main element of physical theatre makes this a show that all of the family can watch together, however whilst leaving the production, I couldn’t help but think that the show was missing something; perhaps a more seamless approach to fusing the circus acts together. 3.5/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Timber! is currently showing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (Southbank Centre) until Wednesday 31st December. For more information on the production, visit here…