Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane: Throwback

Thu 4th – Mon 22nd August 2016

reviews

Lizzie Buckman

at 22:02 on 7th Aug 2016

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Youthful, energetic and exciting, Silver Lining burst onto the stage to booming music and a tirade of paper aeroplanes thrown by the front row. Even the bar staff are dancing along. They warm up their crowd by initiating a nostalgia fuelled sing-along which unfortunately never quite takes off, though not for want of trying. This includes songs ranging from the Spice Girls to Eminem throwing some impressive breakdancing into the mix, though this is only a shadow of what is still to come.

The serious business of circus truly begins with a force when ‘Time of My Life’ plays, and the famous lift is achieved but this performer is caught by someone already standing on the shoulders of another, which it must be said is an incredibly impressive twist. In this song, and throughout 'Throwback', performers sing along. Whilst some (Niamh O’Reilly in particular) have impressive voices, others don’t, but the energy and joy behind the performance renders that unimportant- it feels like they are singing along not for an audience, but for themselves.

From here the set becomes only more impressive, incorporating more live singing including acrobatics and choreographed hoop work, which is interspersed with touching stories about personal memories. These form the inspiration behind the show. At times, these anecdotes feel slightly forced, and the pace drops enough that extra work is required to regather momentum, but it cannot be denied that they give circus a personal touch not seen before.

It is rare to see such a strong sense of unity in any ensemble, not only working together on stage, but also visibly cheering each other on off stage. 'Throwback' give the feeling that the audience wasn’t at a show, but rather had been allowed to peek into a rehearsal. The other side of this coin is that certain elements are not entirely polished or professional; nevertheless, the fun Silver Lining having is infectious. The structure of the show often allows one or two performers to take centre stage and showcase their own particular skills, however the most captivating moments come when the ensemble take to the stage together, in a beautiful umbrella sequence and an impressive finale.

Throwback manages to blend circus, acrobatics, speech and music seamlessly, with only one or two mishaps. This makes for an energetic and very nostalgic show.

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Ruby Gilding

at 11:11 on 8th Aug 2016

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The question “What is your favourite memory?” is not an obvious starting point to inspire a circus show, but this troupe of young performers are not obvious in their approach.

Silver Lining and Jackson Lane’s confessional storytelling has taken circus arts in a new direction at this year’s Fringe. Their production ‘Throwback’ foregrounds the culture of nostalgia that social media’s #ThrowbackThursday has established. The show’s material was interpreted from the performers' personal experiences, in an accomplished tribute to the importance of remembrance. The rapport of the performers is uplifting, and it is this group dynamic that makes the show truly unique.

At Underbelly’s Circus Hub there is the traditional atmosphere of a circus top, but the Lafayette venue is enhanced by a wall of mirrors that intensely reflects the performance. The controlled movements of the artists, as they swiftly execute a startling combination of moves, is impressive. But the genuine abandon with which the troupe share their stories completes the show: they have a personality and exuberance which is absent from the majority of circus acts.

Their verbatim confessions are followed by interpretive aerial and acrobatic solo acts, which cleverly harness the individual talents of the artists. Niamh O’Reilly couples hand balancing with singing in a beautifully-poised display of strength. Another standout performance is Li Kalyn Marles’ inspired testimony to Michael Jackson. The movement of the straps showcases his suppleness as a dancer.

'Throwback'’s spoken word scenes are not as strong as the ensemble performances, and the confessional stepping forward of the performers jars against the high-end circus art. But the slight nervousness can be attributed to the authenticity of placing real people’s lives under the spotlight. Were it not for the central concept of collective memory, then this exuberant mix of skills would be impossible to reconcile into one cohesive show. Therefore, in order to appreciate the performance fully the audience needs to be aware of its context.

‘Throwback’ cannot be contained by one genre, and this demonstrates a remarkable diversity in the company’s approach to circus. The winning combination of pop culture trends, childhood whimsy and past relationships present the collective memories of the troupe, and encourage the audience to remember alongside them.

Circus arts can come across as an inaccessible world, but the collaborative team behind ‘Throwback’ strives to engage their audience. The delight with which the performers respond to the audience’s recognition of the show’s many songs is proof of this aim. With incredible sequences and a spellbinding story, this is top-quality circus reimagined for a modern audience.

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