Stereoptik-Dark Circus


By Justine Denning



“Come for the show, stay for the woe”


Dark Circus is a masterpiece. Based on an original story by Pierre-Elie Ferrier, STEREOPTIK founders Jean-Baptiste Maillet and Romain Bermond have created a piece defying plausibility. How can the transcendent Dark Circus be carried on by just two performers?


A story of cinematic scope, vintage and stylised using numerous techniques to entertain and delight, the duo incorporates live music and live illustrations. To further explain this, there is a narrative (based on the story of Pierre-Elie Ferrier) - that of the Dark Circus, a delightfully morbid and twisted show, where most of the acts, from trapeze artist to the lion tamer, will come to an unfortunate end. Each act will leave an impression and each will be accompanied by a different tone and technique.


The illustrations for these characters, using pen, charcoal, paint, ink, chalk and sand, are created at lightning speed. The detail and beauty conjured before your eyes in a matter of seconds are awe-inspiring; the moment a screen is cleared you are left in anticipation for the next sequence.


This is art at its finest. Lifting the moments of “woe” are the impressive musical accompaniments. The mood is lightened and comedic value is contributed to the musical composition; in a particularly telling moment between lion tamer and keeper, the fear of the narrative is depleted by the comedic musical score and laughter can be heard from the audience at this unexpected juxtaposition of tone.


Highly entertaining and enchanting in its display of skills and performance composition, Dark Circus is a delight. Part of the delight is watching the performers, dimly lit by a low-hanging light, as they man their stations at opposite ends of the stage. The focus is the story they are trying to create but it is wonderful to watch and realise that there are no shortcuts here, only pure man power creating this piece. As Romain Bermond himself states: “We don’t try to hide but we are not characters within the show either. We are extensions of the puppets and drawings.”


Dark Circus plays at HKAPA Amphitheatre, Feb 23-26. Tickets can be purchased at

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