Canadian circus company Flip Fabrique take on the elements in their latest work, Blizzard, promising visual poetry in the face of precipitous conditions. Josephine Balfour-Oatts reviews:

There is the crunch of snow underfoot as Flip Fabrique take their latest work, Blizzard, to the Edinburgh stage. Designed by Marie-Renée Bourget Harvey, a large rectangular framework is held together by see-through gauze. A piano is sat at its feet, the tinkling of keys underscoring tableaus as they are struck against a canvas of dry ice. The use of hand-held torches creates textures of light and shade, an ominous backdrop that contrasts with the keen sense of trust established between the performers early on.

Blizzard Assembly Hall
Image courtesy of Sebastien Durocher

The choreography is almost loving. Sharp intakes of breath sound from spectators as performers dive from great heights – aerial routines in particular are met with formidable applause. However, moments such as this are interspersed with comic gags, sketches announced by the President of ‘Cold and Chilly’,

“Winter is not a season, it’s a way of life” it echoes, sickly-sweet.

Here, a snowball fight dissolves quickly into various episodes of simplistic storytelling. A shame, as there are many instances of skill present within the piece.

Image courtesy of Sebastien Durocher

Transitions too, are laboured by Flip Fabrique’s cartoonish temperament. Props slowly increase in size, meaning that the troupe struggle to clear the stage between skits. Ultimately, it makes for a disjointed experience. Combined with the fact that any pretence of adverse weather conditions are abandoned midway, this creates major inconsistencies. A Hawaiian dream-sequence (though met with squeals of delight from younger audience members) seems a misguided attempt to remain on track – sad too, as the elements promise such opportunity for aesthetic innovation.

Blizzard Assembly Hall
Image courtesy of Sebastien Durocher

That said, some of the Blizzard tricks are definitely worth waiting for. Towards the end, the group defy gravity using a large trampoline. Hugely impressive, though it is difficult not to be overly aware of the lighting rig caught within their flight path. Blizzard feels overgrown somehow, yet lacking in scope at the same time. Less of a storm, more of a teacup.

★★★☆☆

Blizzard is now playing at Assembly Hall until 26 August 2019. For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the festival website.