Devised: Barely Methodical Troupe and Ben Duke
Director: Ben Duke
Reviewer: Simon Topping
The piece starts with a collective shout from the five male performers as they push and shove their way around each other; vying to gain the upper hand. A stern looking woman enters and the jostling stops; replaced with vain attempts of physical prowess to win her favour. The audience starts to laugh at the ludicrous efforts staged to impress and so begins an hour of captivating entertainment and amazing movement.
Chosen to launch Worthing’s Summer of Circus, Kin is the new show from Barely Methodical Troupe; creators of the 2014 Edinburgh Festival hit show Bromance. Here they have expanded their troupe from three to six to tell a Lord of the Flies- inspired story looking at an isolated group existing outside of society in a laboratory environment, managed by a cold captor.
The men (only known by the number displayed on their trousers) stand on plinths at the back of the stage, striking poses like Greek statues. A boxing ring style microphone swings from the ceiling as the warder (Nikki Rummer), from her control desk, calls each numbered male individually to the centre floor to prove their worth. The comical ways in which each performer tries to establish they are the most deserving have the audience in fits of laughter; with displays of very funny clowning. The children particularly enjoy the over-the-top dancing and attempts at serenades, which fall on deaf ears. One by one the prisoners displease; each receiving a Britain’s Got Talent-like rejection buzzer when they do.
As the story continues the audience is treated to increasingly more astounding feats of skill and strength; somersaults taking off from and landing back on another acrobat’s shoulders, incredible head balances and hand holds as well as amazing leaps and aerial twists and turns, all dispatched with great comic timing.
While the men are intentionally bumbling and shambolic, fighting for power and ranking within the group, their female interrogator is elegant and controlled. There is a fabulous section where Rummer walks on the heads of the troupe (switching from one person to another with amazing confidence) and an impressive three-person-high shoulder stand with Rummer at the top in long flowing robes that reach the floor.
There are poignant parts of the show too. The movement sequences within the Cyr Circle are beautiful to watch.
The performance builds to jaw-dropping seesaw tumbling scene involving the male cast. This is met with wows from kids and adults alike. This is where the show should have ended, as after all the excitement, the children shuffle a little in their seats for the last ten minutes as the story is concluded. But, this is the only small criticism shown for such a great show.
Duke and BMT have created a wonderful and captivating piece of Circus theatre. A cross between the Matrix and the Marx Brothers, Kin is funny and breathtaking in equal measure; there is no better showcase for UK modern circus.
Runs until 17 June 2017, then Summer Of Circus continues until 27 August 2017 | Image: Contributed