Circa - Beyond
Spectacular circus from Australia’s sharpest acrobats
This article is from 2014.
The devoré-patterned platforms, the red-curtained backdrop, the eerie blacklight; they’re all indications of things to come in this dreamscape show from outrageously brilliant Australian troupe Circa. But no amount of set-dressing or somnambulant atmosphere can match the plain and simple power of the ensemble of seven, who over the course of an hour tumble, hoist, fling, contort and stretch themselves into all manner of breathtaking shapes.
Circa’s performers are the rock stars of the circus world; sharp, sexy, strong as a pack of turbo-powered oxen, and, in Beyond, tempered with a dose of sweetly surreal humour. The show plays back and forth with ideas about the animal in all of us, leading to cameo appearances from giant bunny heads, animal noises bursting from the cast while they try to behave, and a fabulous Chinese pole solo from a cuddly bear.
But that’s not to say there’s anything flippant going on; rather Beyond traces an intimate path between grace and baseness, offsetting sensual choreography – Billie Wilson-Coffey’s exquisite, vulnerable aerial silk solo – with a wild feeling of letting-go. A prowling, tangling chase evolves between two tumblers, while later on Paul O’Keefe’s extraordinary duet with a piece of paper is swiftly interrupted by him ramming the whole thing crumpled into his gob.
Pain and its magnetism recur as themes: a contortionist allows an acrobat to walk over her split legs; a clown masochistically slaps giant rubber bands against his nipples – the result of both is that the audience gasps are laced with cries of ‘ouch’.
But it’s strongwoman Bridie Hooper completing a Rubik’s cube while being clambered on by the rest of the troupe that sums up the Circa essence: strength of mind is just as powerful a tool as strength of body.
Underbelly Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, until 25 Aug (not 6, 12, 20), 7pm, £16.50--£18.50 (£15.50--£17.50).