Pros: The performance is solid and the acrobatics are breathtaking.
Cons: The narrative is weak, and the positive message should have been conveyed through the action rather than with a final speech.
With the motto ‘Alone we go faster, together we go further’ the 22 members of the French Compagnie XY share not only the stage but also the same roof, living together and taking equal part in the company’s creative process. In a society that leans heavily towards individualism, their third show, It’s Not Yet Midnight…, celebrates cooperation, mutual aid and solidarity. Performed mainly as an ensemble, their routines suggest that a person can jump higher with the help of a group.
The show starts with an enormous fight involving the entire company. When peace is restored, the individuals shine in breathtaking acrobatics, gravity-defying jumps, midair contortions and human towers that keep the audience on the edge of their seats. The ensemble is quite diverse in age, gender and appearance, and their roles aren’t fixed. An athlete who carries someone on his shoulders could be carried by someone else in the following act. Several stunts happen simultaneously, making the performance all the more spectacular – albeit slightly harder to follow.
The message conveyed is poignant, but the lack of theatrical language makes it difficult to grasp. Stronger direction would have enhanced the narrative elements and allowed them to be enacted rather than verbalised. The words of respect and unity – read towards the end by a spokesperson – are inspiring, but it follows an adrenaline-fuelled hour and, therefore, is anticlimactic.
The musical choice is incoherent. In a show that relies entirely on physicality, the soundtrack should have a prominent role in the transmission of the message but, in this case, its presence appears patchy and dictated by practical necessities. Long moments of silence – where the performers needed to communicate with each other – could have been replaced by a discreet background score, which could have better contributed to maintaining the atmosphere or creating suspense.
Despite its unique layout and welcoming front-of-house team, I was let down by the facilities of the Roundhouse; a fifteen-minute queue at the bar was caused by the unnerving lethargy of the staff, rather than the size of the crowd. For a venue that can host up to 1,700 people, this is unacceptable and compromised my overall enjoyment of the evening.
It’s Not Yet Midnight… is an ambitious project that aims to combine wowing stunts with an engaging ethos but, ultimately, fails to deliver the poetic value promised by the posters. The contribution of a director with strong theatrical experience would enable this beautiful show to reach its full narrative potential.
Devised and Produced By: Compagnie XY
Box Office: 0300 678 9222
Booking Link: http://www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/2017/compagnie-xy-its-not-yet-midnight/
Booking Until: 23 April 2017