Review: Beyond Circus -The Albany

Performance: 23 November 2012
Reviewed by Gail Schock - Tuesday 27 November 2012

Circus Bites: Duo’over. Photo: William Correia

Vicki Amedume, founded Upswing in 2004, with the aim of bringing multi-disciplinary performances to new audiences. Beyond Circus, produced by Upswing and The Albany in Deptford celebrates the most recent gathering of circus performers, showcasing just how far indoor circus has come.

Throughout the evening we see the apparatus changing, lighting is kept low throughout, with the exception of the favoured spotlights, at times it’s hard to see what exactly is going on. Together, stage manager Ben Wallace, who would prefer you didn’t notice him, DJ Jean Genie and compere Tricity Vogue, who would like all eyes on her, provide entertainment in between acts whilst ensuring clean transitions. Tricity Vogue seems somewhat lost as a solo compere and once her ukulele is rendered useless due to purposefully placed pyrotechnics, things don’t improve. She has heart and encourages audience participation through comedy and song. This audience are hesitant to engage, they’re here to watch feats that defy gravity, not necessarily participate. This creates a somewhat scratchy opening mood.

Fortunately Linn Broden, a specialist on the slack rope, accompanied by rigger Tom Richmond and accompanied by an original composition by Alex Stoloff, perform Lifty-Lowry Slack Rope, a piece which challenges the relationship between performer and rigger and all is well with the audience. Broden’s performance quality is light, childlike and mesmerising. She has incredible strength which opens up the choreography. She glides, spins, jumps, lays, tumbles and propels herself up, across and down the rope, both climbing skywards and tumbling earthwards. Whilst watching Broden, it is her captivating innocent quality that brings the thought that once upon a time you wanted to run away with the circus moves to the forefront of your memories.

Joli Vyann fuse circus, dance and theatre together in Don’t Drink and Dance, a comical take on night club antics and relationships found on the dance floor; Nothing Moves if I don’t Push It by Simone Riccio tells the story of his many love affairs with women, represented by eight juggling balls and a German Wheel. Both are laugh out loud funny and draw the audience further into Circus Bites Cabaret.

There is deeply personal and intimate work from Stefano Di Renzo, who in a sort of Mr Bean style, tells the story of his birthday through juggling, mime and theatre with precise comedy timing and Yam Doyev, a Jewish Israeli woman who questions the line ‘Thank you Lord for note making me a woman’, taken from the Jewish morning prayer showing. Doyev has incredible strength, openly commented on by many in the audience. Her choreography and silent power as she moves up and down plastic ropes, similar to movement seen on silks, shows an intimate performer who wants you to question yourself because of her work.

Ending this evening of profound skills and stories are Duo’over, a duo from the UK and U.S who perform an awe inspiring duet on the Chinese Pole. The audience doesn’t exhale for a very long time, but when it does it’s into rapturous applause, whoops and whistles. Duo’over understand the soft nuances that make a piece more than tricks and crowd pleasers, they understand love and above all trust.

If you’ve fallen away from watching circus in big venues, give new circus by companies like Upswing in places like the Albany a try. Circus is evolving, progressing from the pure showmanship of tricks for laughs and moving into an incredibly powerful story telling arena.

Gail Schock is an independent development manager and producer, specialising in dance and culture.

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