A house at the end of a deserted road. A storm. A dysfunctional family gathered for the matriarch’s funeral. All the elements are in place for a night full of emotions.

And what a night it has been! Visiting TOHU, the French troupe Cirque Le Roux offers with La nuit du cerf an enjoyable show as possible, which pays tribute to French and American cinema from the 1950s to 1970s.

The six acrobats, several of whom were trained at the National Circus School of Montreal, multiply here the references to the 7th art (from the musical film Sweet Charity by Bob Fosse to Citizen Kane) in a supercharged atmosphere – and an outdated decor very elaborate – which Wes Anderson would not deny. Rarely have we seen a circus show so well packed, so theatrical, without lapsing into unnecessarily flashy scenographic excesses.

The show also opens in a very cinematic way, with a projection on a white sheet and a credits in good and due form. Each artist portrays an archetypal character – Hollywood star with an oversized ego, blundering policeman, misunderstood brother with a strange behavior to say the least – in this wacky scenario where, yes, there will be a man dead at the end of the night!

With Cirque Le Roux, we laugh frankly at the burlesque humor that unfolds on stage, as we marvel at the acrobatic prowess of these highly talented circus performers. Here, the apparatus is reduced to a minimum. No trampoline, Chinese pole, Cyr wheel. This merry band has instead opted for aerobatics, hand-to-hand or ingeniously creative balancing acts.

You should have seen the two women of the troop swinging in unison between heaven and earth, suspended at the end of the arms of the carriers. Their slender bodies twirled to land with a sure gesture in the arms of those who were waiting for them on the ground. The balance number was also particularly successful, with two acrobats performing while the song Because by the Beatles sounded. Undoubtedly one of the numbers most appreciated by the public on the evening of the premiere.

Music occupies a prominent place in this show. The Quebecer Alexandra Stréliski also signs some original pieces of the soundtrack, which also includes songs interpreted by Nancy Sinatra or Brigitte Bardot.

The circus where dialogues mingle with acrobatic numbers always remains a risky enterprise. Being both a good actor and a talented acrobat is not a luxury offered to everyone. Too often, the result does not live up to the ambitions. Despite a few lines that are a bit chewed up and hard to hear, the artists of Cirque Le Roux do well, especially with a few nods to Quebec speech.

With their solid dramatic writing, their very physical acting and their mastery of circus art, this French troupe definitely has everything to steal the hearts of connoisseurs. Especially those who like to be told a story between two athletic feats.