Driftwood

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Richard Birch

at 21:42 on 12th Aug 2016

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Driftwood is a circus performance brought to the Edinburgh Fringe by the Casus troupe in the distinctly circus-like atmosphere of Assembly Palais du Variété. A flawless display of their acrobatic skills, the show however occasionally suffers from choosing to emphasise the physical strength of the performers over their visually dazzling routine. To this reviewer’s eyes, this comes as a weakness; although to many of the audience this wisas not the case, with many evidently impressed by their prowess.

The opening is truly astounding, changing from a seemingly ordinary scene via a dramatic fall and light change into an interlocking lying-on-air position. This initiates an hour of non-stop dramatic movement, utilizing atmospheric lighting and descending lampshades, ropes and so on to create a varied, interesting and compelling show.

However, the performance does occasionally veer into feeling slightly repetitive, using some of the same moves in a similar manner. At times like these one cannot help but feel that the show could benefit from being slightly shorter. However, again this is not a feeling universally held – so much of the audience are clearly sad to see the show end that they conclude with a standing ovation; the best sign of a successful show.

The lighting is spectacular throughout; utilizing shadows and floor-lighting to create an eerie and unforgettable setting. Comic sketches are also cleverly integrated to create a nice sense of relief to the show; one expecting a constant show of gymnastic extravagance is pleasantly surprised to find one of the performers dancing with a coat hanger. An unorthodox addition to the performance, however a welcome one.

In addition, as a display of each performer’s skill, the show is fantastic: it is indisputable even to a casual viewer of acrobatics that this is an example of everyone at the top of their game. The intertwining bodies that are the essential basis of this show, in the words of the troupe, serve to ‘reveal our innate need for human contact’ – although this may sound a little far-fetched and even (dare I say it) almost pretentious, the show does manage to convey this concept with panache. In short, a highly enjoyable show with many good points; with a few small quibbles for this reviewer which do not however hinder the audience’s enjoyment. The standing ovation says it all.

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Coreen Grant

at 09:21 on 13th Aug 2016

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Casus Circus’ fusion of dance and aerobatics is a stunning performance which spoke volumes using only bodies. With just five performers on a blank stage and minimal props, the spirited artists and vivacious music create life and energy in an incredible demonstration of the potential of physical theatre. In the centre of a packed, circular circus-tent, the audience surround the relatively small stage, but as soon as the lights dim the performers take complete control of the space and make it their own: from the very beginning the audience are held captive.

The pacing of the performance is rapid, the artists segueing from each beautiful movement into another: each segment, characterised by different music and a distinct character, seems to top the last. The interwoven bodies create beguiling shapes, in one moment reminiscent of the intricacies of ornate clockwork, working together in perfect, timely harmony. The tone is lifted not only by the audience’s approving reception, but by the actors themselves, whose enjoyment and dedication shines through in every motion.

One of the most endearing features of the performance is that it is unquestionably human. Unlike some circus performances such as Cirque Du Soleil where the artists seem more supernatural than real, these performers are plainly dressed and largely unadorned. There is no distinction between male and female artists: both prove to be unbelievably strong and exquisitely graceful. Their muscles are on show, the visible sweat making their enormous effort tangible. The lack of frills or fancy costumes to distract from their movements is all the more mesmerising.

The performance is not without a few minor fumbles, but that simply proves that they were like us – fallible – and remindes the audience that any one of their awe inspiring feats could go wrong. Each successfully completed stunt is met with an appreciative round of applause.

Not only do the cast members interact flawlessly and intimately with each other, they also appear noiselessly amid the crowd, walking through the audience to leap back onstage and straight into a routine. The focus on human interaction and connection is clearly conveyed not only between the strong bonds between artists, but also the way they meld seamlessly into the audience, as if part of the greater species. Despite not speaking a word, the performance is touching in a way that every member of the audience could relate to.

The climactic, whirlwind finale ends in a moment of calmer, reflective peace: a near full standing ovation relays the audience’s admiration. A dazzling performance which demonstrates that beauty and power of the body can be the same thing.

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