The young shoots of the circus scene have not had it easy for three years. The first victims of the pandemic – and even of the recovery, which favored established companies – up-and-coming artists are struggling to reveal themselves. Hence the importance of signaling their presence when it sparkles.

Remember the name of this duo: Agathe and Adrien. We were telling you about them in the summer of 2021, when they presented the play Branché on the lawn of Tohu with another young Montreal shoot, Barcode.

Agathe Bisserier and Adrien Malette-Chénier — by their full names — have been a hand-to-hand duo since their training at the École de cirque de Québec, which they completed in 2018. N. Ormes is their first show, co-produced by their company Acting for Climate Montreal, which campaigns for eco-responsible shows/tours.

Last Saturday, at the Théâtre Desjardins of Cégep André-Laurendeau, they presented for the first time a final version of this intimate show without words, which addresses the themes of gender and equality.

She has the attitude and sling of a porter; while he, although tall, has a softer personality… In short, we guess he is more comfortable juggling.

As in any self-respecting duo, our two suspects attract each other, tug at each other, repel each other, take each other back, then abandon each other…

Yes, separated and alone on stage, they are never as sparkling as two. The scene where Agathe exhausts herself (alone) doing headstand tricks is quite eloquent in this regard. Later, in his own moment of solitude, Adrien will pass the time “flexing” his muscles in front of the audience…

Fortunately, these are only brief parentheses before Agathe and Adrien reunite and push their duo’s experience up a notch in this show that they took three years to create. In barely an hour, we become attached to one and the other.

The theme of gender and gender equality — especially the mixing of traditional roles, a woman doing lifts, a man doing aerial tricks — is far from new. The Australian company Circa, which has visited Quebec nearly ten times, has made it one of its trademarks.

Closer to home, the 7 Doigts have also explored this vein, as has the Quebec collective Flip Fabrique, in their piece Muse, presented recently. Claudel Doucet and Cooper Lee Smith also offered us an intimate version of this mixture of roles in Se prendre (Claudel moreover advised Agathe and Adrien in N. Ormes).

In short, the duo’s approach is simple, but inventive, brought with humor. Two bodies of artists who mirror each other. There is strong drama and lots of beautiful imagery in the tricks performed by Agathe and Adrien, who have mastered the difficult art of Icarian games — where a carrier, lying on his back, flutters his partner through the air with his feet.

With their matching black jerseys, they sneer at each other and challenge each other. Everything the great Adrien does, Agathe reproduces. Until the final scene where their intertwined — and naked — bodies in a skilful reddish lighting that pierces the darkness no longer allow us to distinguish who is who. The borders thus blurred, they multiply the figures until they form a whole. Very moving.

To those who thought that circus arts had reached a ceiling, here is something to feed the most demanding spectator. Agathe and Adrien will also be present at Montréal Complètement cirque next summer (details still to be confirmed), and will spend the month of August at the famous Fringe festival in Edinburgh before doing a short tour of the United States. A duo that we will keep an eye on.