Staged (4 stars)

This article is from 2019


credit: Alex Brenner

Circus-theatre that pulls the rug out from under your feet

How often does a piece of circus-related performance truly call our assumptions into question, or so wrong-foot the unspoken contract between artist and audience that it becomes (delightfully, at least in retrospect) disorienting?

That's what this things-are-not-what-they-seem-to-be production by London-based, multi-disciplinary company Circumference manages to pull off with conviction, aplomb and smarts. Hands down it has got to be the most audacious piece of circus-theatre on the Fringe.

The clue is in the show's title. The excellently sly performers Aislann Mulligan (who co-directed with Pablo Meneu), Matthew Smith and Gemma Palomar clamber over or hang from a large wood-and-metal platform suspended above the stage.

It teeters and tips as they negotiate their individual and collective balance. So far so frankly gimmicky, conceptually clunky and contrived – or, depending on your viewpoint, visually and physically impressive. And then something disruptive happens that both derails the show and knocks us for a loop.

It's unsettling and exciting, but is it also another kind of gimmick? Perhaps, but the twist is so clever and challenging that you can't help but admire the cheeky, socially-attuned minds – not to mention the articulate bodies – of those both onstage and off. Go and enjoy having the rug pulled out from under your feet.

ZOO Southside, until 25 Aug, 7pm, £12–£14 (£10–£12).


  • 4 stars

Circumference Employing stunning aerial acrobatics in a calculated game of chance, Staged features three performers hanging in the abyss on a platform, which swings, tips and balances as they move. A breathtaking test of their physical limits in a world of increasing uncertainty, Staged is 'not the usual circus adrenaline…