Director: Yaron Lifschitz
Reviewer: Sophia Moss
A human pyramid stands before us. Three men in sparkly, colourful shorts stand at the bottom, three women balances on their shoulders and a fourth (Rowan Heydon-White), who we still believe to be an unwitting member of the audience, stands at the top, her head almost level with the ceiling. The audience shrieks as they all suddenly fall forward toward certain physical injury, but they land in a summersault, before climbing on each other again, moving as one multi-limbed entity. The audience is almost afraid of what the performers are going to do next, but apart from a broken hula-hoop, there are no casualties.
Circa’s Peep Show is more than just acrobats. It’s also mime, contemporary dance, contortion, burlesque, comedy and visual art. The stage presence of all the performers is mesmerising. Whether they are pulling a confused, slightly deranged facial expression, opening their eyes or wiggling their eyebrows in time to the music, or climbing on each other’s heads before doing a summersault in mid-air, they have the audience’s attention. Director Yaron Lifshitz has created a dreamy, slightly un-hinged concept which plays with madness and emotions, dips into many different styles of performance (clowning, burlesque, dance) and makes you question what you thought was humanly possible.
There is a touch of mime and clown-style theatre in the show; at one point two performers throw an imaginary ball into the audience and we can clearly visualise it as its thrown back, falls straight past the acrobats and into the wings in a disappointing plop. The performers also play with madness and surrealism, using noise, crazed eyes and transitions from flowing, effortless movements to jagged isolations and robotic shaking to change the mood in seconds. The audience laugh, scream, clap, cheer and are kept engaged throughout.
The soundtrack is centred around The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (upbeat and burlesque style at the start and a slow, dreamy, horror-movie style version at the end), spoken word, heart-beat like drops, soft, floaty numbers and some with quirky ‘clocking’ sounds to create a mad hatter’s tea party feel. The lighting is well executed and the performer, the music and the lighting are often in perfect time, creating both comedy and drama. The lighting combinations; sometimes blue, purple and brown hues, sometimes sexualised red and sometimes just simple spotlights, always work well with the show.
Circa’s performers are certainly all able to do things most people wouldn’t think possible, but highlights include Jarred Dewey’s trapeze show, which starts as a strip-show parody as the performer contorts his body while removing a frilly shirt and ends with him balancing upside down from a trapeze by one leg.
It is also refreshing to see women lifting multiple people (Rowan Heydon-White, replacing performer Luke Thomas, is ridiculously strong), men dancing together and lifting each other, and same-sex kisses (which ends with all the performers connected by paper string). The less strenuous acts, such as when Jessica Connell performs with four hula hoops, all moving in multiple directions and sometimes all moving around one ankle, are no less engaging.
By the finale, a dream-like sequence which involves lots of slow walking, the performers seem a little tired and the result is less visually engaging than the other acts, although it does end in a spectacular pyramid lift. Despite this, the show is still one of the most entertaining, unbelievable things you will ever see.
Runs until 18 August 2018 | Image: Contributed