Circus ensemble Circa bring Wunderkammer to 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This article is from 2013

Circa: Wunderkammer

Quantum acrobatics from Australian circus group

If you’re not sure where to look when Wunderkammer begins, don’t worry. It’s intentional. Yaron Lifschitz, artistic director of Australia’s Circa, is aiming for sensory overload. ‘It’s based on the idea of quantum instability and the superposition of states, so you have multiple things coming at you,’ he says when we meet in Madrid. ‘The first 20 minutes of the show are almost unwatchable in any conventional sense.’

If that sounds an odd philosophy for a circus show, that’s because Circa believes in doing things differently. The seven acrobats have all the hoop-twirling, pole-climbing and back-flipping skills you’d expect, but Lifschitz removes the big-top cheesiness. In Wunderkammer, he creates the kind of ambivalent atmosphere more typical of contemporary dance, not least in the show’s dystopian finale in which the performers become atomised and the mood turns bleak.

‘Part of the tension of the show is in the choices it asks you to make,’ he says. ‘Am I watching the whole stage picture or am I watching an individual virtuosic thing? The beauty and the essence of it occur in the mind of the spectator.’

Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, 3–26 Aug (not 7, 13, 20), 5pm, £16.50–£18.50 (£15.50–£17.50). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, 5pm, £12 (£11).

CIRCA: Wunderkammer

  • 4 stars

Seven performers tantalisingly blending circus, cabaret and vaudeville as Circa come back to the Fringe for the first time in four years.