Review: Circus Front: Collectif AOC in Question de Directions at Roundhouse

Performance: 21 June 07
Reviewed by Sophie Lawson - Friday 22 June 2007

The Roundhouse describes their Circus Front season as ‘Circus with attitude’. Not knowing what to expect I was surprised to see such a wide range of people, young and old. This contemporary circus show successfully broached the generational divide in its appeal.

After a slow start the production picked up pace and there was barely a lull for the rest of the evening. I would say the description of the show is slightly misleading, and doesn’t do the show justice – mentioning a fusion of break-dancing and juggling. Well the break-dancing is only a small section of the show, but the juggling is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was incredible. I don’t want to give too much away (you have to see this to believe it), but this is the first time I’ve seen a juggling sequence between seven people who are, in turns, under, on and above the stage.

And that’s not all, this quirky cast of characters travel round the mutating set at a rate of knots, jumping out of trap doors, emerging from platforms rising up from the floor, swinging from the trapeze, walking the tight-rope, and performing acrobatic feats while climbing up a pole. Even the musician has to join in the mayhem constantly transporting his percussion instruments around the stage and retrieving them from cheeky performers who run off with them while he’s not looking.

The whole thing is cleverly linked by dance sequences reminiscent of the movement styles of Australian Dance Theatre with the physical contact of Ultima Vez. The sporadic comedy slapstick and clowning skits far from distract from the action, they enhance it. Even though this is a contemporary circus that draws upon elements of dance, and physical theatre, Collectif AOC never forgets that The Circus is the Thing. There are many truly hold-your-breath moments. The skill and expertise of the performers’ circus skills is what makes the show. The acrobatics and trapeze work being my own personal favourites.

After a long and tiring day at work I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to keep interested all the way through, but I needn’t have worried. Collectif AOC was a great night out, I felt upbeat, energised afterwards, and who knows maybe I’ll check out some circus skills workshops?!

What’s On