CirqueNorth WestReview

Circa: Humans – The Lowry, Salford.

Writers: Yaron Lifschitz/Circa Ensemble.

Director: Yaron Lifschitz

Reviewer: Sam Lowe

A pre-show ritual of stretching and changing costume takes place as the ensemble warm up for a spectacle which explores the myriad of ways that the body can move. It’s about them. There is no set, just plenty of dancing fog etching the actions of the acrobats if only for a brief second. Timing is everything in this performance, executing an action at the wrong moment could lead to serious injury or worse.

The title and description doesn’t really do this circus show justice. It’s rather on the nose and predictable – even if the result is sensational. Ten acrobats take the audience on an edge-of-your-seat journey about what it means to be human. Highlighting how our connections and ambitions all go towards founding who we are. It is obvious then that this is about pushing the human body to the limit and challenging our own personal limitations. How much can we take on and who do we trust? However, it is the passion, pluck and physical persistence laid bare to the audience which makes this. They connect with us and each other all within the ecstasy of live performance. The element of danger and surprise is constantly present. It’s the symbolism, play and possible stories littered within the choreography which also makes this a success.

The Circa ensemble bring a controlled and vibrant kinetic energy as they move together across the Quays Theatre stage. It’s a portrait of movement interminably adding and subtracting; evolving and dwindling. The traditional “Showman” persona is not apparent here but it’s all the better for it as the work speaks for itself. The ensemble, just as they are, make great “Show-people”. It isn’t just the quickness and tricks that are impressive there is a whole section dedicated to doing everything at a slower pace. It’s then that you witness their talent. Lifts, flips, cartwheels, walkovers, handstands, handsprings, the list goes on… are refined and graceful – it’s like they are swimming in mid-air. In addition, the aerial sequences are delightful.

Primitive and animalistic would best explain the qualities and characteristics of the movement on show. There is something innate and instinctive about the way they interact with one another – not just in terms of the body but through facial expressions too. Some well-placed, nonsensical, juvenile and silly humour features now and then, making this an ideal family show. These components are fascinating layers within the show. One more absorbing production element is the eclectic and eccentric music, curated by Yaron Lifschitz. Much of the music is Violin heavy and sounds like Hans Zimmer’s musical score for the film, Sherlock Holmes. It sets your heart racing, complimenting this daredevil display.

Britain’s Got Talent has brought dance and acrobatics into the mainstream media but Circa’s Humans offers something different. The ensemble clearly love to play around with form, content and style. They make you appreciate the hard work and practice which goes into a show like this. It can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Reviewed on 16 September 2019.

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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