Circa: Humans

Fri 4th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Dan Mahoney

at 11:00 on 16th Aug 2017

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Aren’t human bodies disgusting? Go on, take a look in the mirror. Horrible. Or maybe that’s just me. Regardless, if you’re in need of a show to redeem your opinion of the potential and majesty the human body is capable of, then look no further than ‘Circa: Humans’. A piece of ‘contemporary circus’ from a ridiculously talented company of acrobats hailing from sunny Brisbane, ‘Humans’ is a stunning production that confounded all my expectations and is far and away the best thing I’ve seen at the Fringe so far.

‘Circa: Humans’ manages to cover a staggering range of emotions across its all-too-short runtime. Throughout the hour the audience was transfixed by a performance that managed to exude sensuality, unease, awe and comedy, all through the medium of unbelievable acrobatic feats. Before seeing ‘Humans’, I was a bit unsure as to how much I’d ‘get’ it due to the fact I am, at heart, a rather stupid man whose idea of sophisticated physical performance before seeing this was the WWE. But although ‘Humans’ is mind-bogglingly intricate and could doubtless be torn apart and interpreted move by move by smarter people than me, the performance deals above all else in the universal language of the body and all that it can communicate. It’s a breathtaking spectacle imbued with a raw, stripped back power enhanced by the stark, empty staging.

The overriding thought going through my mind for most of the show was that people simply should not be able to do most of the moves these acrobats pull off. It’s just unnatural. They contort into impossible shapes, fly through the air at terrifying rates and create human towers that quite frankly don’t look like they’d pass health and safety tests. When all 10 performers are active on the stage at once, ‘Humans’ can create an utterly mesmerising experience, with the dense soundscape and entrancing movements combining to create a heady sensation of sensory overload.

It’s not all sound and fury though, and ‘Humans’ is just as arresting when the pace slows and we’re left with only one or two performers on stage at a time, achieving moments of quiet passion and even laugh out loud comedy. There’s a keen understanding on display of the body’s capacity for humour, as well as awe inspiring acts, and there’s a couple of terrific moments of slapstick and a great sequence showing that even these perfect specimens of human beings have their limitations. Above all, ‘Humans’ is a testament to the potential of the body to pull off incredible feats, and it’ll leave you feeling inspired but also probably a little inferior compared to these athletes in the end. They pull off moves you thought humanly impossible and don’t even look like they’ve broken a sweat at the end, the stupid beautiful physically perfect so and so’s.

Experiences like ‘Circa: Humans’ are why I came to the Fringe. For a show that I was expecting to go over my head or potentially bore me, ‘Humans’ unexpectedly blew me away with its artistry, variety and of course pure technical skill involved in such a production. Even, no, especially if the idea of symbolic ‘contemporary circus’ sounds like a red flag to you, ‘Circa: Humans’ is an absolute must see.

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Simona Ivicic

at 11:43 on 16th Aug 2017

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'Circa: Humans' promises a new, thrilling and heart stopping performance that will go faster, harder and higher than ever before, and oh boy do they deliver. These ten performers, six men and four women, push the boundaries of the human body in a spectacular exploration of the limits of behaviour, movement and dance. This journey of what it means to be human is at times deeply unsettling as they twist and bend into a range of unnatural and seemingly impossible positions. The floor work provides this opportunity for a spectacular exhibition of jarring movements that are shocking and strikingly freakish. The performers appear animal like as they contort into curious and uncanny shapes.

It is Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz that is behind this celebration of human strength and we are left in awe of the diversity of the performance from: high powered acrobatics, aerial work and contortion to pyramid-building and hand-to-hand balancing - it really has it all! Not only do they pounce and fling themselves all over the stage, but they also throw each other across the stage and to each other. The elegant and flawless nature of these gravity defying stunts make the whole performance seem effortless and add to the mesmerising effect of the show. Some of the circus gambits were naturally better than others. The traipse was not as powerful or moving as the floor work that had been directly before, but it was eloquent and remarkable none the less.

The atmosphere of the performance fluctuates between sheer nerve wreaking intensity and a charming playfulness. The intensity is brilliantly created through the collaboration of lights and music. They focus in on the purity of the moment with a simple but powerful beat and a single spotlight. Then a swift change and the pace of the music and the performer's movements calm down to a more mellow tempo that allows space for the performers individual humour and personality to shine through. All of a sudden they appear playful and childlike as they tease and spar with one another with mild aggression. These spirited battles are exciting and leave them panting for air, but cleverly work as a form of relief from the intense material before.

The entire focus of the show is on the human body and its extraordinary potential and ability. The outfits aptly convey this focus, as they are stripped back with just basic nude shorts and simple black t-shirts. There are no gimmicks, props or stage settings to distract from this display of the pure beauty of movement as their bodies are transformed right before your eyes. 'Circa: Humans' showcases the incredible precision and strength of these individuals and without doubt leaves the audience impressed and inspired. Definitely worth a watch.

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