You've never seen anything like it!

 

It is a safe bet that those unlucky enough not to see this very different circus will never see anything like it. Even the tent is different, a great raked area of seating rising from a traditional theatrical proscenium arch behind which most of the action takes place.

But the mood is different too: here is none of the customary circus razzamatazz because the mood is more Brel than Barnum and Bailey.

It is not a show for children, although the many kids in the packed audience last night showed every sign of enjoyment, and some joined in the deserved standing ovation at the end of the 100-minute performance.

Multiskilling is the order of the night as illusionist and acrobat, trapeze artist and trick cyclist, contortionist and wirewalker, the lot, turn to play brass, woodwind, strings and percussion with reckless abandon and musical mastery.

The comedy is sometimes hilarious slapstick (not least with one man playing piano from a low stool, two others competing for the double bass and a singer - the voices are good too - plus a piano with a mind of its own, not to mention hands and arms as well.

Sometimes it is ironic Gallic humour and sometimes it is satirical gender-bending. Almost always it is funny.

The pace is slow and deliberate, occasionally a little too prolonged, but the skills displayed are prodigious and seemingly casual.

Ever seen a bicycle on a trampoline? Or a wire-walking act with a life-size marionette? Or a trapeze act using a long leg of stage drape? Or a one-woman tin whistle band which multiplies with males playing curious wooden organ pipes and transforms itself into a magical calliope? Or a traditional French brass band literally blown away by a ghettoblaster blaring the Valkyries?

These and more are to be found in this imaginative and unmissable show which provided an unforgettable opening to this year's Dublin Theatre Festival. Mind you, a cushion would not go amiss: the seating is the traditional hard wooden bench and about the only thing to remind us of other circuses.

Runs daily at 8 p.m. (3 p.m. on Wednesday) except Mondays until October 18th