16 October 2009, Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre, London
The most amazing juggling I have ever seen. He was slick, quick and flawless. The duet trapeze artists were also amazing. Two women hung off a single trapeze bar, intertwining, twisting, flipping, balancing, using each other to do turns and rolls…
The show had a very retro feel to it. Set in a backdrop that imitated the classic big top tent, it very much reminded me of the days when extreme human talent were showcased as human freak shows. The themes were really loosely tied and the plot was something along the lines of two individuals, one young, one old, who journey through an odd and magical world after they come across a cast of bizarre circus characters. External environments become internalized, and internal emotions become expressed in external objects. Irya’s Playground, who performed live music were absolutely perfect for the show. I love shows with live music and this group really hit the spot for me… especially when they improvised and timed it to the performer’s actions.
And only after the show did I realize I’ve actually seen them before. They are the ones who did The Mermaid (Havfruen) back in 2007. The first circus I saw in London 🙂 That show had really beautiful scenes, especially when they moved between the imaginary line of above and underwater, again and again, where one limb would be moving as if it was emerged and the other submerged… it’d feel and look so real that it became surreal.
My admiration for this company grew after I realized they did The Mermaid, because the two shows were so different that it demonstrates their versatility. Most companies I find, tend to start off with or develop a distinct style, which (particularly) if they get good feedback on, they then are prone to sticking to that one style. This becomes dangerous, especially as tastes and styles (both audience and the field) develop and change. Also, after 3 or 4 shows, even the most die hard core fans need and want something different.
I can’t say that they are raw because they were so slick and polished, but I really liked the humane element to it. I also found it interesting that I found myself much more easily impressed (say when compared to watching Cirque du Soleil). I think it’s because one goes in with different expectations. With Cirque, you expect them to be absolutely flawless and to have ridiculous degrees of skill and talent that it becomes difficult to be wow’ed. But here, even a simple trick does it. I like that.