Close Up (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

Close Up

Credit: Dylan Evans

Awe-inspiring acrobatics at their most raw and honest

A warning: sit in the front row of this show and you’ll be overcome with the urge to shout, ‘Be careful!’ like some crazed mother hen. A collection of Ikea chairs has never looked so frightening. When the acrobats of Circa call their show Close Up they’re not mucking about.

Following smart, sexy Wunderkammer and weird, wonderful Beyond, Australian company Circa takes an abrupt turn in this four-person show to somewhere much more pared-back. Now circus’ magical qualities and mute superhumans are taking off at the Fringe, it seems the logical way to go is back to basics: honest and raw.

In Close Up, the performers shout the building blocks of acrobatics to each other – ‘stand’, ‘roll’, ‘jump’ – while doing each of those things and tossing the microphone in between. Chinese Pole wizard Todd Kilby tells us it’s necessary to wear protective layers in his act, before leaping to it; the explanation makes his balances and drops feel more, not less, of a feat.

Similarly, Lauren Herley’s beautiful rope aerials are made more awe-inspiring by the contrast of her liquid movements and the burning red patches you can see beginning to bloom on her legs. Here, no one is plying the illusion that things are effortless: on the contrary it all looks flipping hard, as well it should.

Close Up isn’t the only show to deconstruct its craft this Fringe; 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures goes down a similar route. Nor is it the first to showcase the wobbles and sweat of up-close circus; Casus’ Knee Deep went there in 2013. But there’s a sauciness and a mischief distinct to the company that has you rooting for them as they challenge themselves harder and harder. Commit yourself to Circa for an hour and you know it’s going to be a damn good one.

Underbelly, George Square, 0844 545 8252, until 31 Aug (not 12, 18, 25), 8pm, £16–£17 (£17–£18).

Close Up

  • 4 stars

Underbelly Productions and Circa How close do you want to be? Four extraordinary circus artists. Acrobatic mastery at its most extreme. Circa, the company behind five-star productions Beyond and multi award-winning Wunderkammer, challenge everything you’ve thought about circus as they wrench back the curtain and bring you…