I’ve been meaning to see Leo since it first premiered at the Fringe three years ago to rave reviews, so this year I thought I’d go and check out what everyone is talking about. It doesn’t disappoint – it’s a quirky and enjoyable mix of mime and acrobatics, a one man show by German company Circle of Eleven which has appeal for all ages.
The stage is split into two – one half is a huge box with a man lying on the floor and a suitcase at his side. The other half of the stage is a giant screen onto which is projected a mirror image of this box, but from a completely different angle so that the man now appears to be sitting on the suitcase leaning against the wall. If we watch the screen, we see the man perform a series of apparently gravity defying moves as he explores the confines of the room and the objects within it. In reality he is performing these movements on the floor but on the screen he appears to be climbing up walls and balancing precariously in mid-air. The precision and skill of the actor is at times breathtaking. There isn’t much of a story to it, but there is an amusing use of basic props such as when he appears to climb the wall using his hat or when he drinks horizontally from a bottle of water. There is a particularly good sequence where he opens his suitcase and releases different types of music to which he dances frenetically around the room – African drums, Indian sitar, even a bit of breakdancing.
Impressive though it all is, it does reach a point where it starts to look a bit repetitive. However, just as you start to think this, he introduces something new – the furniture and pets he has drawn in chalk on the walls to create a home suddenly come to life through computer graphics on the screen. After surviving a weird and wonderful underwater chase he emerges exhausted. He summons up all his remaining energy and tries to find a way out of the room, leaping up the walls and falling back again and again. Finally he finds an escape route through his box of tricks, his suitcase, and he wriggles out into the night sky, free at last.
This is an enjoyable and different show but has probably run its course now and it would be interesting to see a new work by this company at the Fringe next year.