Theatre review: Leo, Maidment Theatre

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Emotionally gripping narrative, changes of mood take fans on whimsical fantasy.

Actor-gymnast Tobias Wegner performs in Leo at the AK Festival, which is in its final week at the Maidment Theatre.  Photo / Andy Phillipson
Actor-gymnast Tobias Wegner performs in Leo at the AK Festival, which is in its final week at the Maidment Theatre. Photo / Andy Phillipson

Now entering its final week, the AK Festival has been an outstanding success and for those who have been slow on the uptake the programmers have kept some of the best for last.

Leo, created and performed by Tobias Wegner, demonstrates how a simple shift of perspective can generate a parallel dimension where the depressing omnipresence of gravity is triumphantly overthrown.

Defying conventional wisdom that illusionists should keep the tricks of the trade secret, the show revealingly presents two simultaneous views of the action: On one side of the stage an acrobatic performer is confined in a three-walled room, while alongside a life-size video projection of the room is tilted by 45 degrees so that the floor becomes a wall.

This simple device opens up endless possibilities and disclosing the method only enhances the magic.

The escape from gravity becomes a metaphor for the liberation of the imagination in a wildly inventive dance sequence that culminates with a spectacular interpretation of Frank Sinatra's I've Got The World on a String.

Just when you think the show might have exhausted the possibilities of its method, a projected animation whisks us away on a whimsical oceanic fantasy that suddenly switches into a nightmarish vision of confinement.

These abrupt changes of mood lift the show beyond the realm of a circus spectacle and create an emotionally gripping narrative that has the audience rooting for the protagonist as he struggles to break free from the haunting confinement of his topsy-turvy world.

In line with Einstein's theories, messing with the laws of gravity inevitably affects the passage of time and the show's 60 minutes seems to race away in twinkling of an eye.

Review

What: Leo.
Where: Maidment Theatre until March 24.

- NZ Herald

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