Director: Charlotte Mooney and Tina Koch
Music: Adam Ilhan and Quinta
Reviewer: Ruth Jepson
Never has an audience been so enthralled by a man clipping a hook to a carabiner. To be fair, the hook is at the end of a 15-foot pole, the carabiner is suspended from the ceiling, and, in a moment, five performers are going to be swinging in circles around said pole.
There is an audible sound of relief when the safety catch clicks into place.
So we get into Tipping Point, the latest offering by circus theatre group Ockham’s Razor, a fearless feat involving five performers, aerial acrobatics, some frankly astounding balancing ability, and the aforementioned fifteen-foot poles. These are sometimes carried around by the performers but are more often than not are suspended swinging from a cross-shaped metal rig in the middle of a white circle. They say that if you can draw a perfect circle you’re either a genius or a madman. Apparently the way to do it is by pouring salt out of a pole, and anyone who has ever seen an episode of Supernatural will know what that gets you. A protection circle.
And by heck is it necessary. Tipping Point is a spectacle of flung about bodies, seesawing and twirling above the ground without safety harnesses and with an apparent disregard for health and safety. The performers (Nich Galzin, Alex Harvey, Emily Nicholl, Telma Pinto and Steve Ryan) may be unflinching in their theatrics, but you are going to flinch your way to a heart attack multiple times in this hour-long production, especially every time Pinto comes hurling head first towards the floor, or Nicholl is thrust above someone’s head.
There are two ways to enjoy the show. The first is to just sit back and be awed by the acrobatic work going on in front of you. The strength these guys must have to fling themselves and each other around is unbelievable. The second way is deeper, and probably also unavoidable. The program for Tipping Point speaks of dealing with the mess life throws at us, of fighting and contemplation. You will make your own story no doubt. But whatever reading you get from this piece of breath-taking physical theatre, it will affect you. Particularly the solo piece by Ryan, and the duet between Harvey and Galzin, both of which are just beautiful. Also too, the final image as the light fades to ultraviolet, of a salt mandala appearing before your eyes. All this before you ever begin to consider Adam Ilhan and Quinta’s deeply evocative soundscape of clocks and pendulums, and the hauntingly atmospheric lighting of Phil Supple.
The best theatre is entertaining, thought provoking and transformative. Tipping Point is all this and more. Move all the mess of your life out of the way in order to see it.
Touring Nationwide | Image: Contributed