Smoke and Mirrors (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

Smoke and Mirrors

credit: Kate Russell

Stripped bare circus explores the human beneath the clothing

It all starts with numbers and indifference. ‘Three million, two point five million,’ and so on, a female voice recites. Laura Stokes and Cohdi Harrell are on the trapeze, business-dressed, grappling for their place on the bar. There is cooperation, but of the cold kind, and sometimes it’s open warfare; she places a high-heeled foot on his head, he flips her from one contortion to another. When she later undresses and takes to the rope, no wonder her solo dance is a thrashing melancholy battle.

New Mexico-based RICOCHET Project’s first Fringe outing is a slow burner, quite literally stripping its two leads from formal clothing, down to almost nudity, and along the way finding their humanity through motion, bravery and partnership.

It’s one of those small-scale, huge-idea Fringe hits that has come out of nowhere – a treasure of a find, performed by two extraordinarily dextrous and expressive movers. Harrell has a dance language both fluid and angular as he uses his hand to flip his legs together, pushes himself in uncomfortable directions and forces himself through the back of a chair. Later, teetering on the trapeze bar, letting go of the ropes you feel a stab of terror for him, as well as uncomfortable parallels with those New York bankers from the beginning, and what might be going on underneath their skin.

A current of distress runs through the first half, fracturing and filtering towards peace as the two souls emerge to care for each other with tender tangles and curled embraces. Lit celestially, together on the ropes, to Charlie Chaplin’s speech from the end of The Great Dictator, they remind us that it’s in gentleness, kindness, skin-on-skin contact that happiness and beauty lie.

Assembly Checkpoint, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 24, 25), 6pm, £13--£14 (£12--£13).

Smoke and Mirrors

  • 4 stars

theRICOCHETproject Calculating the stocks of our emotional economy, Smoke and Mirrors weaves acrobatic exploitations and high flying distortions to examine the contorted state of America in the pursuit of happiness. In a minimalist environment of a trapeze, a rope, two chairs and a light; Smoke and Mirrors delivers an…