Pros: A creative approach to showcasing a wide variety of talents.
Cons: The artists were so good I wanted more of the show to be focused on them.
As a unique fusion of traditional circus skills and urban street performance, BITES: Remix dispenses with the rule book from the very beginning. It seems entirely natural then, that this show would begin not on a stage but in the theatre bar. As the pre-show drinks moved seamlessly into the first act, I was left wondering who amongst us was audience and who was a performer.
Inside the auditorium, the show experiments with every tradition you might expect from a theatre visit. A two way relationship is forged between the audience and artists, creating a feeling of collaboration, rather than a passive viewing experience. Our ‘ringmaster’ and hostess Leonie cracks jokes throughout, encouraging us to “whoop, cheer and ‘nip to the bar” as often as we like. The Albany complements this relaxed atmosphere perfectly, as both the audience and performers are free to move between the different areas of the venue as they please. The auditorium itself is circular with a decor and structure reminiscent of a concrete circus tent, again reminding me of the ‘city-meets-carnival’ theme. I found these elements gave the performance a liberating, almost ‘impromptu’ feel, more akin to street theatre than a traditional production.
This daringly original concept is supported by a highly skilled team of performers. Traditional circus acts such as gymnast Tamzen Moulding and aerialist Willy Wag Tail, are alternated with contemporary urban arts like breakdancing and beat-boxing. Most extraordinary however, are the acts which combine both styles. A memorable example is juggler Frederike Gerstner, whose sequence is accompanied by beatboxer Hobbit. Gerstner and Hobbit are remarkable individually but their team work in synchronising beatbox sounds with live juggling takes the act to a whole new level.
After setting the bar high, all expectations are exceeded by Charlie Wheeller in the Cyr wheel. Despite having seen this type of act before, I’ve never seen it executed so flawlessly or with such apparent ease. Increasingly impressive acrobatics within the rotating wheel, caused audience jaws to drop around the room. Wheeller makes incredible physical strength look effortless and what must be a carefully choreographed piece, feels almost ‘absent minded’. A well chosen music track and low lighting enhance this sequence, creating an effect which is utterly mesmerising.
Structurally, the show takes on a cabaret feel by introducing and following each act with a little audience interaction. Using improvised comedy and a selection of show-stopping outfits, Leonie keeps the momentum during these segments, eventually building up to a full blown ‘hip-hop ceilidh’. Whilst the audience involvement did create a fun atmosphere, I would personally have exchanged some of this time for an additional circus act. Having been presented with such a talented group of performers, I would gladly have sacrificed a drinks break to see a little more of them.
This show does exactly what it says on the tin: ‘bites’ of one art form, remixed with another. The result is entirely original and incredibly entertaining. Unlikely combinations work surprisingly well and suddenly a maypole-breakdance seems like common sense. Bringing together the very best of two very different worlds, BITES: Remix will leave you wondering why it’s never been done before.