Perhaps Hope

Thu 4th – Mon 22nd August 2016

reviews

Una O'Sullivan

at 10:14 on 10th Aug 2016

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‘Perhaps Hope’ is a wholly mesmerising acrobatic performance about the consequences of climate change, by two circus performers, Rockie Stone and Vincent van Berkel. At first I was unsure about how such an abstract topic could be portrayed through the medium of physical movement.

In this unique display, however, Stone and van Berkel manage to accomplish all of that and more, eloquent kinesics increasing the audience’s feelings about the threat of global warming. Humanity’s treatment of a planet older than time is expressed so absorbingly that all sense of time vanishes— we could have been watching the exquisite choreography for a matter of days or mere minutes.

The core motif of this show’s narrative is the issue of balance, perhaps making a point about our lopsided excavations and ploughings of the earth’s resources. The graceful symmetry of the spectacle’s beginning gives way to a more erratic chaos of dangerous, whirling movement, which the audience watching with bated breath. A curved wooden seesaw is used to create power balances and imbalances, and wine bottles are used as precarious stepping stones. The act of standing on these empty green bottles is both a symbol of the fragility of the earth, and a subtle reminder that we can reuse the materials that we waste. More immediately, however, it is an amazing way to create a sense of apprehension in the audience. These minor components of the set are gradually drawn in to create large, perilous structures which, in a final, breathtaking vision of motion, could signify our reckless treatment of the earth.

Voiceovers are used sporadically throughout— blaring news broadcasts about the effects of climate change, and voices reading facts and figures about our planet’s journey towards destruction. These are jarring and ugly compared to the sheer beauty of the performance, yet the harshness of the clamouring voices is a moving counterpoint to the fluidity, and adds greatly to the engrossing narrative. Despite all of this, the show never risks being preachy or negative— it is simply an attempt to awaken a sense of importance about the often-neglected issue our planet faces.

My favourite moment of the act is when rock music is played intermittently with the tense score of violins, and Stone, in headphones, dances in vigorous, aimless circles. In the meantime, we see van Berkel, doing balancing acts on one arm, on four rickety wooden posts. While humanity is engrossed in the newest multimedia fad, the earth slips into increasingly hazardous conditions. Overall, this show is an uplifting marvel of imagination and enterprise, and I would thoroughly urge you to seek it out.

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Julia O'Driscoll

at 12:49 on 10th Aug 2016

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As we enter the Circus tent to snippets of speeches concerning Climate Change given by a myriad of politicians, activists and experts including Obama and Attenborough, the motive and message behind ‘Perhaps Hope’ becomes apparent. Company Here and Now are an Australian acrobat duo who are using their craft to explore a global crisis which we experience and greaten every day. However, this is also just a beautiful hour of entertainment, which incorporates many types of movement work and experimental techniques which keep the audience engrossed to the very last moment.

There are sequences of juxtaposition, as one acrobat frantically dances to a Walkman whilst the other (Vincent Van Berkel) slowly and gracefully levitates himself creating shadows under a spotlight. These are contrasted with movements where the two bodies are in total harmony with each other; a great example is the mechanical cog-like movement which also provide a way to transport one performer to the other side of the stage. A seesaw is simulated, and the joyful movement of the pair playing quickly becomes frantic with an awareness of the potential danger as one acrobat flies higher and higher.

The repetition and continuation of certain routines is interesting, as the music experiences interference and the sequence we have already seen begins to break down. Throughout, the music varies from electronic effects to orchestration as well as rainfall. A lovely moment was the intrusion of actual rain sounds into the performance as Edinburgh experienced a downfall, reminding us that this show has no larger impact on the issue they grapple with, simply that presents some ideas and attempts to portray possibilities in an original format.

As a final act, Rockie Stone methodically builds and climbs a tower made from glass bottles. As she reaches the top, the entire construction shivers with her movement, highlighting the fragility of the precarious position she has assembled for herself, and indeed the position we as humans now find ourselves in. ‘Perhaps Hope’ explores many ideas of potentialities of the anthropocene, and is a testament to the creativity and innovation of Company Here and Now.

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