North WestPhysical TheatreReview

No Show – The Lowry, Salford

Writer/Director: Ellie Dubois

Reviewer: Sam Lowe

It’s time to go to the circus. Or, is it? This is no ordinary circus; the show title is no ordinary title. No Show unpacks what hides behind all the showmanship. It’s not all glitz and glamour. There will be blood, sweat, and tears. We will witness the performers pushing themselves in the art of circus performing, gymnastics, and acrobatics. All of them will fail along the way, but that’s okay failure is beautiful, failure is normal, and failure is human.

This is a circus show with a difference, it’s an amalgamation of contemporary, autobiographical, and circus performance. The result is a performance where we look past the flawless smiles and perfectly executed movements to glimpse the vulnerabilities, wobbles, breathlessness, pain, and the detrimental consequences of aiming for perfection. The main message to take away: learn to fail better each time.

There is a plethora of amazing tricks in this show, occasionally stage smoke is incorporated into the routines adding an extra touch of magic. Some stunts include: fifty-two cartwheels in a row, human juggling, prolonged balances, a Cyr Wheel demonstration, and one woman pulled up off the ground by her long hair.

The show doesn’t take the audience “somewhere else and to a different time”, like to the fantasy world of the circus. It acknowledges the here and now, a group of talented performers showing what they can and can’t do in front of an audience – in other words, a presentational performance. There are pre-determined parts to the show, but also improvised elements which make the show feel all the more alive and in the present. Comedy comes as a result of the interaction between the performers, who clearly have bonded well as friends.

Various socio-political ideas showcase themselves too. This is a circus show which makes you think. In a male-dominated industry, the woman convey how some in the arts try to turn the art form into something sexualised and seductive. It becomes an experience to satisfy the male gaze and voyeurism. Also, one woman talks about a sexist comment that was said to her, after performing an impressive floor routine she was told: “You’re good for a girl”. In challenging these notions, the women proudly and joyously push themselves, sweat, and pig out on jam doughnuts.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about this evening is the title. Why is it called No Show? Upon reflection, the name suggests this isn’t your “traditional” circus show. There is no attempt to be another person, perform another character, there is no falsity or pretending. It’s all about them being themselves in a space, existing, showing us what they can and can’t do. They are perfectly imperfect. It makes you think why does the word even exist in the first place. NoShow is a celebration of what the human body is capable of and highlights the personal empowerment that comes from acknowledging you’re not perfect.

Reviewed on: 5th October 2018 | Image: Chris Reynolds

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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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