Ssssh! What can you hear? The audience is aged between 5 and 75 yet… apart from the delighted laughter which peppers the show, you can hear ….NOTHING! No rustling, fidgeting, coughing, shuffling or kids asking “What’s he doing Mummy?” Our silence was testimony to the fact that we were all, no matter what our ages, mesmerised by the gravity defying antics of Leo, spellbound by the sheer innovation and brilliance of this one man show. Belgian Tobias Wegner is Leo, and he’s also the creator the show. With Canadian Director Daniel Briere and a brilliant crew of creatives, he takes us to another world and challenges our perceptions, and all with exquisite style and endearing charm. It’s small wonder that this little production is a multi award winner, every one of which is justly deserved.
I don’t want to spoil this by over-explaining it, but the basic premise is a live performer in a box – working horizontally, which is then simultaneously projected vertically, moving through 90degrees, onto a screen. The only “prop” is an old suitcase and its contents. That’s it, and I’d be the first to concede that it doesn’t sound very exciting. But from this humble premise true theatrical magic is created. The producers promote Leo as being a show about defying gravity, and that’s true…but only on the simplest of levels. Perhaps, like everyone who experienced this marvel last night, they just find it too hard to expand on the explanation. Or perhaps, like me, they don’t want to spoil the sense of wonderment for those that see it. But Leo is anything but simple at its heart. Apart from the extraordinary acrobatic and dance abilities of Wegner himself, and the complex marriage of reality and technology (at one stage there is a “live” Leo and three or four projected Leos on a time delayed loop, so that they all move individually) the show has deep thematic messages, beautifully packaged in light entertainment – just the way messages always should be.
For Leo is all about perceptions; confronting us with what we think is real…and showing us it isn’t; with what we think is simple, and showing us its complexity; with a world that seems mundane - even nondescript, and astonishing us with its magic. It’s an uplifting eye-opener of our private universes and how we inhabit them. Superbly presented in all facets, this is very special, rich and original theatre, and fabulous entertainment. Take the kids with you…at least they’ll be quiet for 70 minutes. Better still, let your inner child out and lose yourself in the wonder. If only we could ALL be Leo, at least for some of the time.
Photographer: Heiko Kalmbach.