The Korea Herald


More stream-of-consciousness than circus

By Park Min-young

Published : June 27, 2011 - 18:21

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For audience expecting a circus, ‘Rain’ leaves something to be desired

If hair-raising acrobatics, lions jumping through hoops on fire and ultra-flexible girls folding themselves like paperclips is your idea of a good show, “Rain” is not what you are looking for.

Canadian troupe Cirque Eloize’s “Rain” is such a new type of show that calling it a circus would be to ignore most of its essence. Though it has been staged over 4,000 times in 31 countries during the past six years since its premiere on Broadway, it is still an experimental performance which finds itself somewhere between theater of the absurd, a Bossa Nova musical and a circus. 
A scene from the finale of the circus “Rain” (CREDIA) A scene from the finale of the circus “Rain” (CREDIA)

An actor impersonating the director of the play opened the show with a monologue on Saturday at LG Art Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul, hinting that the show would be a one-of-a-kind circus that has a story. The show was composed of images and memories of the director, Daniel Finzi Pasca, who unfolds his childhood memories of playing in the rain through mini dramas and acrobatics.

The scenes, however, were unconnected. Between acts of relatively tame acrobatic acts such as walking on a stick, twirling bodies on hanging ropes and jumping on giant seesaws, the pianist often carried his own piano up onto the stage and delivered live background music while performers quarreled about how they should carry on the rest of the show.

Just about when one started to wonder what kind of show this actually was, one of the performers cried out on stage that the director must be insane.

“You said this is going to be a new kind of circus that has a story, so where is the story? This is crazy. We are stopping the show now!” she yelled, while a fellow actress tries to talk her out of it and tens of boots rained down from the ceiling with big thumps. Laughs broke out in the audience which realized that such absurdness was in fact intended and the show was smarter than it seemed. The whole thing was like a well-made French movie that follows the stream of consciousness of the main character ― in this case, the director.

Though its thought-provoking elements are worthy of applause, it may be hard to find the fitting audience for it, as circus-goers usually look for some thrilling tricks and musical-goers look for a good story, not some mind-boggling conceptual art. The stage was too small and stuck in a corner ― a better fit for a passive play than a circus in which performers should split the air grasping flying hoops.

The highlight of the show when performers jumped about and played ball while two tons of water showered down on them for ten minutes was a beautiful finale portraying the director’s happiest memory. It certainly is a rare sight to see LG Art Center’s stage flooding.

“It is in fact the most dangerous scene in the show, more than the stunt acts. We designed a safe set which prevents the whole theater from flooding, keeps actors safe from getting electronic shocks and can be installed in any theater in the world,” said officials of the show.

Expecting some high-technique acrobatic skills, however, the last scene was not so satisfying. Once again, the scene left one wishing for a bigger and more centered stage from which the audience may at least be able to feel the water splashing around.

Circus “Rain” runs through July 10 at LG Art Center in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114 or visit

By Park Min-young  (