Closer

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Jessica Baxter

at 08:01 on 6th Aug 2016

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Have you ever heard the sound of a genuinely stunned applause? It’s the sound of absolute silence, punctured by a single, slow, irregular clap. With a few hisses of sharp inhales. In front of five hugely talented acrobatic performers stacked on top of each other, balancing on a stick.

This was heard during a performance by Circa, an Australian circus company who offer an awful lot more than your average Britain’s Got Talent dance group finalist. Their show ‘Closer’, a follow-up from last year’s ‘Close Up’, brought a dazzling, mind-bendingly lissom acrobatic act to the sparse stage of the Underbelly venue. The decorative jewellery of a fancy Cirque-du-Soleil performance was just not required for this. The bodies of the performers did all the talking, and I loved every minute.

Only five wooden chairs are visible when the show begins, accompanied by three women and two men. No performer is hugely muscular or particularly toned, each simply a perfectly healthy human shape. It is staggering to watch the absolute muscle power that follows.

All five performers not only defy gravity, but the very rules of anatomy, and reduce the limitations of the human body to mere inconveniences. Limbs stretch and unfold in gasping movements. Arms and legs become interchangeable as one person is swung from another. Feet audibly slap on the floor as they land from metres above. A dancer no longer climbs up a simple white rope; she becomes a Greek war hero wrestling with an albino python, suspended in mid-air.

Just when each part is on the edge of becoming repetitive, the scene is snatched away and morphs into something else, rejuvenated by different music, a different atmosphere. Less effective are the facial expressions made at tense moments during the show. Where the performers attempt to adopt glazed-over, dreamy expressions, trepidation splinters through. I wondered if a performer was actually bored at one point.

Definitely not boring is the star of the show, Lisa Goldsworthy, a red-headed Wonder Woman who could probably give you and your mates a piggy back up and down the Royal Mile until your heart’s content. One moment she brandishes a few glittery hula-hoops, the next she is swirling more than ten around her hips, arms and head, encasing her in iridescent glowing orbs from the sheer speed at which they turn.

Overall, this is a stunning, unornamented ode to the human body and all its strength. It absolutely deserved the proliferating standing ovation that the stunned applause ended in, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

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Toby Clyde

at 09:41 on 6th Aug 2016

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Circa has rolled back in to town and this international group of circus artists have brought with them a new show: 'Closer'. With great skill and fierce control this team of five multi-talented circus performers have created something that is better than just spectacular; it is extraordinarily tender.

As strange as it might sound though, this is Circa’s bread and butter; over the course of an hour the performers are always more than acrobats. As the show moves rhythmically between group and solo acts, from high ropes to pyramids, it feels like a connected dance. The team share intimate glances, almost kisses and the briefest of caresses amidst their inhuman shows of strength and movement.

Of course there is good old-fashioned circus drama in spades and for those just looking for an exiting evening Circa will serve you well. Without giving away too much the finale was the most unspeakably tense thing involving chairs that I have ever seen in my life.

Some of this will be more than familiar to audience members returning after last year, perhaps a little too much so although I am sure many will be more than happy to once again see performers like Lauren Herly once again grace the stage.

Yet there is still something importantly different about 'Closer'. This is circus at its most elemental using a minimum of props and an unobtrusive sound track (Velvet Underground and 'My Baby Shot Me Down' feature) to keep the show constantly absorbing and focused on the performers. Indeed it is Cira’s ability to absorb us in the actors themselves that is so special. It is always intimate, for even as these men and women move with a choreographed skill that is slick and otherworldly, it is impossible not to feel involved.

It is not just a matter of gasping along to their movements although there is plenty of that. Having been contained on the stage for most of the production they finally step off near the end and the significance is clear; we are part of their dance and seeing this for the first time the feeling is electrifying.

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