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Shift, Circus Hub on the Meadows, Review

Pros: Playful and inventive acrobatics from award winning circus company

Cons: Transitions between set pieces were sometimes meandering, and spoken text got lost in the large tent space.

Pros: Playful and inventive acrobatics from award winning circus company Cons: Transitions between set pieces were sometimes meandering, and spoken text got lost in the large tent space. Award-winning circus company Barely Methodical Troupe’s latest show has a cool, other-worldly feel about it. Four performers, dressed in blue, manipulate what looks like a long tension-band (also blue), as the soundtrack of drips and static reinforces the dreamy, unstable atmosphere. The tension-band was fascinating to watch - catching acrobats like spiders in a web, from which they rebounded into effortlessly light tumbles across the stage. At other times it was…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

A shifting world of innovative, experimental contemporary circus, performed with humour and style.

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Award-winning circus company Barely Methodical Troupe’s latest show has a cool, other-worldly feel about it. Four performers, dressed in blue, manipulate what looks like a long tension-band (also blue), as the soundtrack of drips and static reinforces the dreamy, unstable atmosphere. The tension-band was fascinating to watch – catching acrobats like spiders in a web, from which they rebounded into effortlessly light tumbles across the stage. At other times it was like a giant cats’ cradle, with the ensemble transforming into an optical illusion of body parts balancing in seemingly impossible configurations.

The physical work was technically accomplished, but it was difficult to hear performers speaking in the space, and some transitions seemed pointless. When tiny Swedish flyer Esmeralda Nikolajeff handed the ends of the blue band to people in the front seats, it seemed the audience were about to be involved in something, but it came to nothing – her co-performers interrupted her, and she simply collected back the bands.

Nikolajeff had some stand-out moments, though. To cheers from the audience, she turned circus conventions (almost literally) upside-down by persuading the company’s friendly giant Louis Gift to balance on her shoulders for a brief, edge-of-the-seat demonstration of female power. A beautiful ensemble sequence in which she treated the cyr wheel as a tight rope saw Nikolajeff lifted aloft before swinging and somersaulting on the wheel as if it was her own personal set of monkey bars. There were many of these unexpected and inventive moments where the company created an oddly beautiful, ever-shifting world.

Cyr wheeling from Charlie Wheeller was thrilling, and break dancer Elihu Vazquez was a show stopper, flipping and rolling with such tensile strength you’d be forgiven for thinking he was on a bouncy floor rather than a solid stage. Barely Methodical Troupe are accomplished enough to appear right at home in this stretching, dream-like world. It was fun to drop in and watch them at play.

Director/Deviser: Melissa Ellberger, Ella Robson Guilfoyle and the company
Producer: Di Robson
Box Office: 03333 444 167
Booking Link: www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk
Booking Until: Saturday 25th August (not 8th, 13th, 20th)

About Alexandra Gray

Alexandra Gray
Alexandra’s love of physical theatre first became clear at five years old when she veered off script in the school nativity play. At the entrance of the Angel Gabriel, she cartwheeled across the stage crying ‘Yippee, an angel of the lord!’ and the Virgin Mary burst into tears. Following this auspicious start, she went on to study dance and theatre and is currently doing her Masters in English Literature. When not in the library or at the theatre, she can be found singing jazz professionally, teaching yoga, and growing broad beans.