Hong Kong Arts Festival opens with Compagnia Finzi Pasca’s energetic La Verità

Inspired by the images of surrealist master Salvador Dalì, the show features 12 charismatic performers displaying an impressive range of skills

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 22 February, 2016, 6:01pm

The 2016 Hong Kong Arts Festival opened with La Verità (The Truth) by Swiss-based theatre/circus troupe Compagnia Finzi Pasca. Supposedly inspired by the work of Salvador Dalì, it’s a good-humoured, high-energy show packed with acrobatic feats even if it falls short on evoking the artist’s surrealist magic.

Director Daniele Finzi Pasca – a key figure in the wave of “new” circus who co-founded Cirque Eloïse and has worked with Cirque du Soleil – was inspired to create La Verità by the discovery of a scrim (theatre backcloth) painted by Dalì for the opera Tristan und Isolde in 1944.

The scrim itself features in the production (an added attraction for art lovers) and there’s a running gag about it being up for auction.

The show incorporates images from the Spanish surrealist master’s universe including seeding dandelions, figures with rhinoceros heads and a dance number for men in tutus wearing Dalì masks. However, these elements never coalesce into a whole – the show remains essentially a succession of circus routines.

The famous scrim is raised and lowered a few times but the theme of Tristan and Isoldeis not explored. The only scenes to really capture the dreamlike feel of Dalì’s world involve a life-sized mannequin, manipulated so cleverly that it’s hard not to believe it’s alive.

While La Verità may not live up to its surrealist premise, there’s much for lovers of the genre to enjoy and the show received a warm reception.

The 12 charismatic performers display an impressive range of skills in every circus discipline, from aerialism to juggling, with music and comedy thrown in.

Highlights include two dazzling acrobatic duets, one very slow, the other a high-speed affair on roller skates and a sequence of quick changes so remarkable they truly seem like magic.

Humour ranges from simple (the men in tutus had a small boy sitting behind me screaming with laughter – a pity there weren’t more children in the audience, happily the run includes two matinées) to sophisticated (on the scrim: “It’s not ugly, it’s contemporary.”).

La Verita

Compagna Finzi Pasca

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre

Reviewed: February 19