- Kelly Apter
- 27 August 2021
An intimate and stripped-back two-man Fringe circus show fails to display Circolombia at its best
While Canada and Australia continue to dominate the circus world, the Fringe heroes of 2018 hailed from somewhere quite different. Based in Bogota, the circus artistes of Circolombia proved themselves utterly fearless in their superb show, Acéléré. Three years and one pandemic later, the company (like everyone else) is limited in what it can do, both artistically and logistically. Hence, instead of a multi-faceted show populated by a large gaggle of performers, emcee and live DJ, this year's offering is a stripped-back two-man affair.
Despite being 45 minutes long, there's an awful lot of padding here, including macho wrestling scenes and a bizarre sequence with swinging gas masks. If there's a narrative to be found it's too well hidden, and the skill on display falls short of Circolombia standards. It's also unfortunate that, due to poor sightlines, around 90% of the audience missed any floor action. All of that said, about 25 minutes into the show things really hot up and an instantly appreciative crowd sits up and recalibrates its attention. José Henry Caycedo Casierra is a highly skilled tightrope walker, and having warmed us up with some tentative strolls across the rope, he begins bouncing, twisting, flipping, and generally wowing us with his strength and agility.
Despite the amount of muscle required to do it well, aerial work is often an exercise in grace and beauty. Not so here. His whole body glistening with wet mud, Cristian David Triviño hoists himself up with two straps, looking ready to do battle with himself. Impressive splits and balances, climbs and controlled falls are all expertly executed. All circus shows have to build, to have moments of excitement and quiet, but to invest so much in one half of the show is strange. Ves-tigios is Circolombia's first 'intimate performance', as they term it, so perhaps the company is still finding its small-scale feet. Certainly, this piece feels like a 20-minute routine in search of a larger show.
Circolombia: Ves-tigios, Assembly George Square Gardens, until Sunday 29 August, 9.30am, £16 (£15).