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Raven, Assembly Roxy (Central) – Review

In German "raven mother" is a nickname used for women who prioritise their needs above those of their children. Hence the title of this piece of social commentary, where three women discuss the ups and downs of juggling motherhood with a career as acrobats. Proceedings begin on a high note, with Romy Seibt's numbers at the aerial rope and Lena Ries's display of skills as a contortionist. Together with Anke van Engelshoven, they form the Berlin-based all-female collective Still Hungry, which blends theatre and circus to present first-hand experience as working mothers. With an age range spanning from mid-thirties…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

Three women, acrobats and mothers discuss with a good dose of sarcasm the ups and downs of juggling work with family. Honest and unapologetic.

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In German “raven mother” is a nickname used for women who prioritise their needs above those of their children. Hence the title of this piece of social commentary, where three women discuss the ups and downs of juggling motherhood with a career as acrobats.

Proceedings begin on a high note, with Romy Seibt’s numbers at the aerial rope and Lena Ries’s display of skills as a contortionist. Together with Anke van Engelshoven, they form the Berlin-based all-female collective Still Hungry, which blends theatre and circus to present first-hand experience as working mothers. With an age range spanning from mid-thirties to mid-forties each has two children, as well as a successful international career as a performer.

A pre-recorded voice introduces them one by one as they leave their circus equipment to sit on a large sofa positioned centre-stage – a visual symbolism of the contrast between working and staying at home. This dichotomy returns throughout, with piles of laundry becoming juggling props and the sofa turning into a platform for more acrobatic tricks. Meanwhile, the pre-recorded voices multiply, merging into a spat of accusations, questioning their ability to care for their children.

There are glimpses of genius in this piece of theatrical circus which receives the creative support of performance wizard Bryony Kimmings. It uses a good dose of sarcasm to challenge the misconception that a woman – even more so an acrobat – must choose between family and career. Sadly, though, most of the acrobatic stunts – except for Anke van Engelshoven at the aerial straps – happen during the opening scene, when we are not quite ready to savour them in full. Also, hearing the performers’ voices introducing themselves, rather than the recordings, would have contributed to the intimate nature of this piece.

A tender video projection concludes the performance. Proving that career, acrobatics, touring worldwide, working unsociable hours whilst still being a role model for a child is not only possible, but also an infectious passion and an inspiring lifestyle.

Devised and Performed by: Romy Seibt, Anke van Engelshoven and Lena Ries
Directed by: Rachel Hameleers
Creative Support by: Bryony Kimmings
Producer: Chamäleon Productions in association with Aurora Nova
Booking Information: This show has completed its current run.

About Marianna Meloni

Marianna Meloni
Marianna, being Italian, has an opinion on just about everything and believes that anything deserves an honest review. Her dream has always been to become an arts critic and, after collecting a few degrees, she realised that it was easier to start writing in a foreign language than finding a job in her home country. In the UK, she tried the route of grown-up employment but soon understood that the arts and live events are highly addictive.