Day: February 2, 2016

Review: Wild Worlds: V, Vaults Festival 2016

Read more

Wild Worlds: V is a selection of tableaux, images and disjointed visual references. It is hyper-real, referential and takes it’s three and a half actors (Gabby Sellen appears as a disembodied mouth and head only) beyond human representations to become absurd parodies of themselves. It is playing Wednesday to Sunday each night for the next two weeks as part of the fantastic arts and theatre weirdness that is the Vaults Festival 2016 underneath Waterloo station.

This is the third Wild Worlds and while each show is entirely different, they pick up on some of the same themes and are all part of the Artful Badger universe. Ideas about breaking free of day-to-day life, activities and other people’s expectations underpin much of their work. This show, with an emphasis on that love – “an overpowering, sometimes underwhelming and never easy four letter word”  – is really quite a dark exploration.

Live dance theatre performance at The Vaults


Love can be just as much a prison for some as it can bring joy to others. A couple try to hold each other together only to implode. Another performer asks us why “we are so important”, why do we think so highly of ourselves, how arrogant to think some God might care about our meaningless lives. With samples of literature from Dante realised in a “Becketesque” fashion these vignettes together create a tapestry of ideas, impressions and associations, like a surreal hermeneutic circle.

This is not a stationary piece, as the show takes the audience through different parts of the cavern. To delineate the space, great use is made of lighting to change the feel of the environment from a large stark open void, to a dark intimate place made up of a single torch. The strongest part of this production is the visual ideas at the centre of each section. With very simple effects director Zoë Cobb has created unique and powerful flashes of how our lives can be, told through dance, movements and physical theatre.

Live dance theatre performance at The Vaults

Due to funding issues this show is much more stripped down than last years “spirit of the festival” award winning Wild Worlds: Dark Side which had a bigger cast, projections and some notable aerial work with harnesses and a large loose net. This brings to mind the age old adage that less is more: this show feels better realised, a bit more focussed and cohesive and is a good example of where restrictions have actually helped the artistic process.

The last words must go to the Vaults Festival itself. If you have never been then do go see this show or something else that takes your fancy. There is a great selection of comedy, fringe theatre, dance, artwork, experimentation and a great atmosphere. With so many shows taking place simultaneously it’s great to see something and then chat to people in the bar and hear about what else was on during the evening. Despite the incredibly diverse programming and the tremendous support the festival gives to companies who come through the doors, they receive no arts funding for it. A petition is planned to try and help them get more recognition, for now give your support by heading down to take a look at what’s on offer.

Wild Worlds: V continues until 13 February at The Vaults. Tickets are £16. More information

All images: Aaron Davies

Circus Treats: What’s On in February

Read more

Turn your back for a second and suddenly there’s circus everywhere. This month sees the first of the tenting companies taking to the fields and towns of the UK, in addition to the ever growing number of theatrical circus shows popping up around the place.

Moscow State Circus lead the charge, opening on 1st, followed by Planet Circus, Gandey’s Thrill Circus and Circus Funtasia on the 12th, Paulos Circus on 13th, Big Kid Circus on 15th, and Circus Zyair on 16th. And that’s just the beginning…

Theatres up and down the country will be visited by circus shows that range in content from traditional thrill acts to contemporary dance infusions, via children’s theatrical spectacle and French brass band joy. Cirque Berserk, the former, is presented by Zippos Circus for the second year running; Joli Vyann‘s new show Imbalance explores digital interactions through acrobatics; Lost in Translation‘s madcap, banana-loving The Hogwallops, produced by Jackson’s Lane, is still on the go; Cirque Tsuica are in the UK for the first time, with the energetic musicality of Opus 7.

Circus Of Horrors are midway through their Shocking All Over The World 21st anniversary tour, and Ockham’s Razor are set to take latest ensemble show Tipping Point out to those who didn’t catch the premiere at London International Mime Festival last month.

The Mime Festival still has a couple of circus tricks up its sleeve before it closes, with French Cie Yoann Bourgeois bringing their suspended, shifting stage to the Barbican with He Who Falls, and Swedish troupe Svalbard presenting the surreal All Genius All Genius at Jackson’s Lane, both from 3-6th.

Jackson’s Lane have a really exciting circus programme this season that, this month, includes the Hangwire showcase of new work on 13th, and two new pieces sprung from the Resolutions residency with The Place. AlulaCyr are three women and three cyr wheels, exploring pack mentality in Hyena (16th), and Le Lien ne Fait pas le Fagot is acrobatic duo Nikki and JD examining what it’s like to consistantly be cast as lovers when in reality JD is in a gay relationship, and Nikki is a 30-something woman searching for Mr Right on Tinder (18th).

In case you’d forgotten that February hides the dreaded Valentine’s Day deep in its midst, don’t worry, Jackson’s Lane also have a circus solution for that, admittedly a little belatedly, with associate artists Silver Lining serving up a Late Valentine circus cabaret on 27th. If you want something closer to the big day itself, try Invisible Circus‘ Valentine Weekender Kabaret Klub in Bristol (12-14th), or Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club‘s Bad Romance Social in Cardiff (13th). Then again, you could go for something completely different, and book onto one of CircusMASH special couple’s workshops to try some circus out for yourselves (14th).

Speaking of something different, Wales Millennium Centre has a new production of Shakespeare’s Henry VI that runs from 1-20th and features an all female cast with aerial acrobatics performed in the venue’s roof void.

There’s still more though folks! February half-term is when the annual Showzam festival takes place in Blackpool, where a range of circus, cabaret and street performers from the UK and Europe will be performing from 13-20th.

Finally, one last mention for those of you in London: Paper Doll Militia are performing LoopsEnd as part of VAULT festival, billed as ‘the love child of Tim Burton and Trent Reznor’, and directed by the brilliant Al Seed, from 24-28th.

p.s. Almost forgot to mention Cirque du Soleil! Still in state at Royal Albert Hall with Amaluna till 6th March.