EFR - Reviews of Shift

Shift

Sat 4th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

India Greenland

at 09:14 on 11th Aug 2018

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This show is so terrifying that you’ll constantly want to look away from whatever daring stunt is being performed on stage, but so beautiful and captivating that you won’t be able to. The four person group Barely Methodical put on an absolutely spectacular show that left audiences open mouthed and thrilled. ‘Shift’ combines physical theatre, dance, acrobatics and moments of comedy in this experimental and breathtaking performance that is not only almost faultless in every ambitious move from start to finish, but also incredibly moving.

The show had a futuristic feel and theme, with all the performers dressed in blue and with an engaging cyber-sounding soundtrack. As I walked into the classic circus tent venue, I think I was expecting something more colourful and typical. However, I was surprised by how innovative and unusual the show was. Barely Methodical created a truly unique atmosphere, and the show was always fluid and never rushed or chaotic. Oddly, considering how dangerous some of the moves seemed to an inexperienced audience member, it was even relaxing to watch at times.

Barely Methodical made use of the round staging expertly, never leaving a single seat feeling neglected. Whether they were break dancing, climbing all over each other or performing amazing tricks with wheels and bands, there cannot have been a single person in there who was not utterly enthralled throughout.

Despite sense defying moments that you thought couldn’t possibly work (such as one of the huge male performers standing on the shoulders of the tiny but strong Esmeralda Nikolajeff who seemed about half his height), the show went without a hitch; each person knew exactly what they were doing at each moment and it was incredibly slick. Impressive as this was, I suppose it’s also quite crucial for safety in a show when people are literally being thrown about, or people are balancing on each others’ heads.

Whether it was one of the men pretending he was about to drop another as he stumbled over the stage with him on his shoulders, or the odd one-liner, the performance also had its funny moments which lightened the mood and gave a nice sense of characterisation. Sometimes I wished for slightly less of this though; when there are truly remarkable acrobatics on offer one second, the far less impressive puns in the next were disappointing in comparison.

This show is stunning and powerful and absolutely entertaining. You’ll be thinking about how some of those moves could possibly be performed for days.

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Eleanor Gunn

at 10:34 on 11th Aug 2018

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Entering ‘The Beauty’ stage of the Circus Hub was like being transported back into Barnham and Bailey’s famous big top. The mirror-lined walls, obscured by a haze of smoke, reflected the audience sat around the square centre stage. It suited Barely Methodical Troupe, an experimental circus troupe, down to the ground.

The performers entered the stage from behind a black curtain with eerie, almost unsettling music playing in the back ground. They picked up a what can only be described as an enormous rubber band and beginning a series of what look like trust exercises, leading up to some truly breath-taking lifts, which use nothing but the performer’s strength. 'Shift' combines all the performers unique skills into a series of scenes.They all moved with enormous confidence, which was mirrored in the jokes they fired off throughout the show. The audience knows that, conceptually all the tricks could go awfully wrong, but just at the moment where there is about to be a terrible fall through a single deft movement they're safe again.

The chemistry between the performers is palpable, it was almost like watching four friends with unique skills experiment with a routine in a studio, the mirrored walls really adding to this sense. Their casual manor is only made serious during the most difficult tricks, with all other movements flowing effortlessly.

Special mention must go to the only female in the group, Esmeralda Nikolajeff, who’s strength and utter fearlessness was totally breath-taking. What really struck me was the trust she placed in her fellow performers. She would climb and jump and fall, never being allowed to hit the floor despite some close calls. It was a show of sheer athleticism, but that on its own would not have made this a stand out show. It is instead the personality the troupe bring to the stage, and their fresh take on the use of familiar apparatus. It made the show charmingly impossible to predict.

This performance had none of the frills of typical circus, it was a calm demonstration of skill and teamwork. Head down to Edinburgh's Meadows and be transported into another world.

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