Circus

Race Horse Bring Their Rollercoaster Circus Show To The UK

Read more
Race Horse's thrilling circus extravaganza Super Sunday is on tour around the UK until 3 June. Image: Petter Hellman.
Race Horse’s thrilling circus extravaganza Super Sunday is on tour around the UK until 3 June. Image: Petter Hellman.

Last year Finland’s Race Horse Company brought their wild circus extravaganza Super Sunday to CircusFest 2016 at the Roundhouse. This year they return with not one but two shows, taking Super Sunday and Around – a circus show for children – on a UK tour from this month until 3 June 2017.

Filmed during the 2014 run, here is a breathtaking taster of what to expect from Super Sunday.

We sat down with Rauli Kosonen and Kalle Lehto, founding members and performers of Race Horse Company, to find out more.


Race Horse Company was formed in 2008 – how did it come about and what was the Finnish circus scene like back then?

Rauli: Race Horse Company started as the dream of three circus students who wanted to create their own raw physical circus show and tour around the world. At that time in Finland, there were only a few “new circus” companies and we asked one of these, Circo Aereo, to work with us to create a show and help us with the production.  We had no idea how things worked and how things were done!  Although the Finnish circus scene is small there is a really hard-working culture, an attitude of not giving up when things are difficult.

What makes Race Horse special? Do you have a concept, a theme or a motif which goes through all your works? 

Rauli: I think we look at each work as an individual project but you can find many similarities between them. We want to be truthful to our idea of circus so we always try to tell the story – or express whatever the idea is – through our circus skills. We then like to add black humour and strange elements and then just sweat a lot – on and off stage!

In the end we do want to amaze and amuse people but in such a way that audiences don’t always have to react to everything.  We would still be there doing our thing with the same raw energy.

Your company is not short on daredevil acrobatics and your recent work has shown an aesthetic of chaos and play. How do you look for new ways to push the physical and artistic side of your work? 

Rauli: I don’t think we really have to ”look” for new ideas, more or less the ideas comes to us. Always in circus, there is this strong sense of wanting to improve yourself and your skills as much as possible. I think the same applies to creating shows or coming up with ideas. You never want to do the same thing twice, so you start to think about a new way to surprise yourself or how you can do something you haven’t done before.

Has Super Sunday changed since we last saw it at the Roundhouse during Circusfest 2016?

Rauli: The show is still the same idiotic rollercoaster ride but, of course, we make small adjustments and we still like to push ourselves to make the show better each time. We have a playful mutual encouragement to boost each other to new limits.

Tell us about the wheel of death – an impressive but dangerous piece of equipment. Is it really as dangerous as it looks? Have you ever had a serious accident during practice or performance?

Rauli: It is everything you said and even more. The first time you get the thing up and walk on it, it’s already a thrilling experience. It makes your senses really alert – knowing there is a risk of injury at every step is  hard to explain. We’ve had a few injuries s with this machine. It’s not something I really want to talk about, but as a example one of our performers flew out from the top and broke both his ankles. Luckily, nothing more was broken! That’s why we have big mattresses under the death wheel in Super Sunday, just in case.

What should the audience expect from Around? Will adults enjoy it as much as children? 

Kalle: I think all ages of audience will enjoy the show. At least that’s what Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat said!

Is Aroundyour first circus show for children? What is it like creating a circus show for a much younger audience?

Kalle: Around is actually part 2 of my trilogy of shows for children with the same ringmaster character. The first one Circles  premiered in 2012 and the third Chevalier is coming out in 2019. Creating a show for children is fun because kids are so honest with their feedback and, if they are bored, they let you know. In a way it’s more challenging because kids detect emotions but don’t yet really understand things like irony or sarcasm. And most kids come to see the show with their parents so the show has to entertain adults at the same time.

Live music is being used more and more in contemporary circus and Around features two acrobats and a band of musicians. How important is music to your work and how collaborative is the process between the acrobats and the musicians?

Kalle: I like to work a lot with music because through music I started breakdance and through breakdance I started circus. In this show we use live music because it’s about traditional circus where music was always live. The music in Around is made to accompany the performance and the live aspect creates opportunities for interaction. And even the circus artists contribute to the music in Around – I made my debut in pan flute in this show which was fun.

Super Sunday and Around are on tour in the UK from 9 April – 3 June. For tour dates visit cryingoutloud.org/whats-on/

 


Review: Becoming Shades, Vaults Festival

Read more

Persephone, daughter of Zeus has been abducted. Deep in the Underworld she fights against her imprisonment which has brought perpetual winter on earth.

This is the story of Becoming Shades, staged as part of the Vaults festival. The shadowy outlines of the forgotten myth have been reimagined for modern times by London-based company Chivaree Circus. It is also really about confinement and release and as a promenade piece in the murky tunnels below Waterloo, it does not have to try very hard to be the immersive experience it sets itself up to be.

There are various performances here from the various denizens of Hell and, no matter how each set piece varies in skill and sophistication, the way they are weaved into the story and the neatness of the promenade style direction must be admired. A figure who resembles a skinny, faceless Fester Addams (Malik Ibheis) with flashing, lit-up hands gives us our pre-performance instructions like a freaky airline attendant. Later, he gently ushers us round the performances, telling us to sit and stand as if this is some kind of church or court. His presence and actions unify everything, whereas in other promenade pieces this mechanism can feel intrusive.

It is Persephone’s story, however. Her capture by Hades, the ruler of Hell, is imagined here as a love story and she both wants to escape from him and cannot resist him. The two tautly defined performers illustrate this magnificently, in tumble routines from silks and in balletic lifts.

Persephone, though, is no dainty victim: her considerable strength makes the couple’s dynamic more even and, hence, more interesting. Being so close in the fairly small space also adds to our fascination but almost our discomfort too, a confinement of our own. There’s a feeling here of watching a lion prowl his cage in the zoo.

Elsewhere, the visibility of sheer muscle power work well with the Greek mythic origins, where physical prowess was celebrated in all its forms. For example, Hades flexes and parades his muscles at us before attempting to balance precisely on stilts on his hands, reminding us his body itself is as much an aspect of the performance as anything else.

Release is brought out in the ways light is used. Candles are given to shared out amongst the audience so all can take part in a votive scene while pagan dancers brandish flaming candelabra. It is most successfully used through live music from Becks Johnstone, a singer-songwriter whose soaring notes have already filled London tube stations before she found herself here, performing under one. The contrast of her voice – part Portishead, part hymn and folk-like – with the darkness and musty air around her, gives her work added poignancy.

The light at the end of the tunnel for Persephone is she gets to visit Earth once a year to bring warmth in the form of Spring. In these bitter few weeks of winter, we sympathise with her yearnings, yet are glad to be released from the Vaults and the intensity of the night.

The Vaults festival runs from 25 January to 5 March http://www.vaultfestival.com/

 

 

 

Review: Cirque Du Soleil’s Amaluna

Read more

Returning again to the Royal Albert Hall, Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Queen Prospera elebrates her daughter Miranda’s coming of age by raising a storm, causing a group of sailors to wash up on the island of Amaluna. One of the sailors, Romeo, saw Miranda and they fell in love at first sight. However, their love is tested by the goddesses and creatures that inhabit the island.

At 2.5 hours long, Amaluna features a host of circus disciplines performed by highly talented artistes from around the world. Highlights include an adrenaline pumping straps act, a mesmerising aerial hoop and hand-balancing sequence featuring a water bowl, and a fast-paced uneven bars act.

For the hoop/handbalancing sequence, Cirque breathes new life into an otherwise standard routine through an aerial hoop performer who sings and contorts at the same time. Our heroine Miranda’s hand-balancing skills are also put to the test when she dips in and out of the water bowl to perform impressive feats that require a high degree of flexibility, strength and balance.

There are moments when Cirque tries to experiment with established forms of circus disciplines. In one act, three aerial poles suspended from the rotating carousel above are mirrored by short Chinese poles attached to the ground. The show gets a point for innovation, but sadly this unique staging only provides a brief moment of wonder through a fast spinning aerial sequence. For the rest of the act, there is minimal action as the performers are limited by the significantly shorter poles, only half the length of a regular Chinese pole.

Unfortunately, Amaluna loses that point when it goes out of its way to give the noble art of clowning a bad name. Echoing the relationship between Romeo and Miranda, the story sees the two clowns playing his manservant and her nanny fall in love. They are chiefly there to provide comic relief and distraction as the set is being changed but sadly their act is often sexist and predictable, a filler providing very little entertainment value and only a few laughs.

Although Amaluna was created in 2012, this doesn’t feel a lot like a contemporary production. The show is still very much adhering to and limited by the formula of success which Cirque has depended on for years. In an attempt to find the lowest common denominator Cirque has opted for a palatable and arguably tired range of visual tropes. The female performers and musicians are dressed in costumes inspired by goth and punk aesthetics, giving off 80s hair and glam rock chick vibes. On the rare occasion that the male performers are not topless, they wear bondage-inspired costumes; our hero is seen removing his top on a number of times in the show apparently only for dramatic effect. Set in a distant and unknown time and space, the limitless possibilities available to the designers of Amaluna is wasted on a vision that feels at times dated and risk-averse.

Technically impressive but conceptually bland, this new production of Amaluna begs the question: how long can Cirque bank on their tried and tested formula of spectacle and comedy, in the context of contemporary circus where up-and-coming performers are continuously pushing the boundaries of their technique and storytelling? All in all, Amaluna was a thoroughly enjoyable performance featuring many jaw-dropping moments but sadly very little food for thought.

 

January’s Craziest Circus Shows In London

Read more

If you’re in the capital this month,  you’re perfectly placed to see one of these fabulous circus shows.

 

La Soiree

The double Olivier Award-winning variety show is coming to the run of its latest run in London, the city where it first began. You have until Saturday to check out a company which includes amazing acrobats The English Gents, hilarious contortionist Captain Frodo, high-heeled trapeze artist Jarred Dewey before it leaves its spiritual home.

The final show is on January 8 and more information can be found on the official website. Meantime, here is what Hamish McCann, one half of the Gents, gets up to on the Chinese pole.


Bianco

NoFit State’s Bianco is a unique circus show which is less about sit-and-watch, more about stand-and-gawp. To the sound of a live band, the audience are led around the big top as numerous spectacular acts happen in front, around and above them.

Bianco runs until 22 January on the South Bank and more information can be found on the official website. Here is a taster of their show from their New York run in May 2016.


Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna

The biggest brand name in modern circus touches down again at the Royal Albert Hall with an updated version of their 2016 extravaganza. Loosely inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Amaluna’s storyline revolves around a group of men who, during a storm, find themselves washed up on an island governed by goddesses. Unsurprisingly, love and acrobatics ensue. The show is notable for having a cast that is 70% female.

Amaluna runs from 12 January through to 26 February and more information can be found on the official website. Here is the official trailer.


Becoming Shades

This year’s Vaults Festival features Chivaree Circus who bring their debut show Becoming Shades to one of most exciting performance spaces around under Waterloo station. A re-imagining of the classic myth of Persephone told through contemporary circus, this London-based troupe take inspiration from the words of James Joyce for a production which brings together live music, aerial acrobatics, fire, dance and mime, Becoming Shades is a story of empowerment, love and choices.

The show runs from 25-29 January and more information can be found on the official website. Here is the official trailer.

West London Cabaret Venue The Aeronaut Gutted After NYE Blaze

Read more

West Acton cabaret venue The Aeronaut was ablaze last night just half an hour after partygoers saw in the New Year.

The “Circus Spectacular” show featured compere Ria Lina and performers fire burlesquer Aurora Galore, comedy music act Rayguns Look Real Enough, clown Dmitri Hatton and circus artistes Jess Love, Le Renn, Silver Lining’s Niamh O’Reilly and Angeliki Nikolakaki.

Around 340 revellers and 12 staff fled the Aeronaut when the alarm was raised. Online footage obtained by the BBC and The Mirror shows the venue alight as over 70 members of the London Fire Brigade tackled the flames. The LFB rescued six people from a first-floor flat above the pub; the neighbouring police station was evacuated too. Three police officers who assisted in tackling the fire are being treated for smoke inhalation. The London Ambulance Service said it took five patients to hospital suffering from ‘minor injuries’.

The venue has been seriously damaged. An LFB spokesman said, “Half of the ground floor of the building is alight. The first and second floors, including the roof of the three-storey building, have been gutted by the fire.” The blaze was finally brought under control by 5am.

The cause of  the fire is not yet known. The police have said the cause was not believed to be suspicious while the LFB have said it was unknown.

Matt Blair (son of TV celebrity Lionel and part of musical act Rayguns Look Real Enough) wrote on Twitter about the night’s events.

According to The Metro, Blair said that he had heard that ‘some idiot’ used a candle to light a branch on a Christmas tree but he was unable to verify this.

Image: @AbdulYusuf

 

The Inside Story Of Circus Spectacular Bianco

Read more

We’ve already told you how much we loved NoFit State Circus’ Bianco. When they invited us to come down to join in their training and meet some of their core crew, we jumped at the chance. Belinda Beveridge reports.


Walking into NoFit State Circus’s Big Top tent and my immediate reaction is “how beautiful!”. In the early afternoon before performance, the empty space is crackling with the atmosphere of things to come.

I’m here for a workshop with Cardiff-based company, NoFit State, whose tent for the contemporary circus show Bianco has landed, spaceship-like, in the Winter Festival at the Southbank. Inside the big top, it is more like one of the gorgeous aliens from new sci-fi flick Arrival: scaffold-like metallic arms stretch upwards, challenging and inviting interaction.

Before I try the counterweight ropes by climbing up these same scaffolds and attempting juggling and hula hooping, I meet Lyndall Merry, head of rigging and performer (trapeze) and the architect of the tent I’m gazing at.

Merry tells me that I am not the only fan of the intricate rigging and I ask where the inspiration for the elaborate setup came from.

The answer he says, is constant collaboration between long-standing NoFit State director, Firenza Guidi, and the riggers. It is Lyndall’s job to translate creative ideas into practice but sometimes they simply don’t happen. This is either because “technical implications far outweigh the benefit of the image” – the classic tension in the creative process between concept and its execution – or, less glamorously, because of safety.

It is this latter aspect that is at the heart of how they operate – something that is not surprising for the dangers inherent in circus – but more interesting is how enthusiastic he is to talk about safety’s role in the creative process.

“There are shows that run on a big production scale and they don’t want their artists to have any information in their brains, because they want their artist to be the best they can possibly be as artists,” he says.

NoFit State takes a contrary view. Their performers must have an in-depth working knowledge of their equipment and the risks across the range of what they are asked to do. During each performance of Bianco, the acrobats double up as performing artists and technical crew: they set up the technical cues, push scenery around the tent and act as counterweights for acrobats.

“The performance exposes the risk.”

This approach to laying bare their show’s innards is to the team an essential aspect of circus, demonstrating the trust and the community element and it is part of the magic for performers and for the audience watching it. “The performance exposes the risk,” explains Lyndall. “And the fact that people do extraordinary things that are risky and but are doing them without bad consequences, that’s the thrill that’s what makes it entertainment.”

“A lot of [our reviews] talk about the feeling of community and support in among the tent that is there between the performers. It’s very much part of the magic of this aesthetic,” he adds.

Circus has actually become safer over the years, even as the creativity and feats have become more inventive. According to technical production manager John Kirk, this is because safety and creativity now work alongside each other whereas, in the past, the two worlds have been very much separate.

For each intricate and considered vision of creativity, there has to be a structure to back it up. Lyndall tells me of examples like “using rigging made of chocolate,” or “making water flow uphill” that he might be asked to create, illustrating the challenge and the ingenuity in his role that is as significant as that required by other members of NoFit State.

Aside from insight into how Bianco’s big top experience has come together, the workshop itself gives me a fine idea of my physical limits and but there’s not enough time to really explore them. We can’t all be in the circus, but we can enjoy feeling part of it in a style that puts us in the thick of it, and which exposes the guts as well as the glory.

Bianco is at London’s Southbank Centre (in the Winter Festival gardens) until 22 January 2017.  https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/117873-nofit-state-circus-presents-bianco-201617

Words: Belinda Beveridge
Image: Tristram Kenton

Circus Review: Bianco Is Pure Poetry And Aesthetic Wonder

Read more

NoFit State Circus come to London with their acclaimed show Bianco for the final run of this immense performance piece.

Modern circus was invented in London and almost immediately it spread and evolved around the world quickly moving through Europe and reaching as far as China and Mexico in barely a few decades.

One explanation as to why it moved so rapidly is that, being essentially a non-verbal art form, companies could cross borders and amaze audiences in different countries in a way that theatre was largely unable to. NoFit State Circus – who unquestionably occupy the space of the UK’s leading circus company – having toured the world, now touch down in London to show how far we have come since then in a show that is both very contemporary and yet in subtle ways quite traditional.

Bianco is pure poetry and aesthetic wonder.

The Southbank Centre hasn’t enjoyed circus of this quality since Limbo and of the three big shows in town over Christmas this is by far the most exciting in terms of the circus. Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna misses just about every mark and, while La Soiree is cheeky, fun and full of variety, Bianco is pure poetry and aesthetic wonder.

There is no definite narrative, more a sense of competing voices, tableaus, and personalities all brought together through a shared visual identity. Performers soar above you and around you. The energy of the piece progresses through the intermingling of music, performance and visual symbols. There is a repeating theme of different personalities trapped within the performers.

Language is used in monologues, but in various languages – suggesting that the passion of the words and intonation is far more important than the coherent meaning of them. The language of Bianco is movement and it transcends speech. This is a piece to get lost in and to be amazed by.

The technicalities as beautiful as the theatrics. The rigging is a work of art, which is brought to the fore-front rather than being hidden away. The counter-balancers are as much a part of the show as the performers.

A scen from Bianco by NoFit State Circus @ Big Top, Southbank Centre. Directed by Firenza Guidi. (Opening 23-11-16) ©Tristram Kenton 11/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com
Bianco, Southbank Centre

This is an evolved show from the version seen almost four years ago at The Roundhouse and some of the performances feel very much like a continuation of Bianco’s earlier form, for example starting with Lyndall Merry on the swinging trapeze, or Augusts Dakteris wonderful straps finale routine.

Other aspects have also changed. Francois Bouvier on the tightrope is incredible – the most exciting performance on this apparatus I’ve ever seen. He skips, dances, twists and turns across two wires that cross each other. It really is wonderful and replaces an earlier tightrope performance that featured a girl in a red dress – an anomaly in a show where costume is largely made up of white and black – walking the rope in high heels, a cliché that has been vastly overused in productions over the last few years like Cirkopolis’s cyr wheel routine.

This is a show that proves that circus is an art form that can capture the essence of what it is to be human and alive.

This is a show that proves that circus is an art form that can capture the essence of what it is to be human and alive. After next January, NoFit State Circus plan on a year of making new work and Bianco will stop touring so this is the last chance to see this fantastic production. For those who missed out on Bianco at the Roundhouse back in 2013 – buy your tickets now, quickly, before you waste your money on overpriced mulled wine.

This Is Cabaret rating: ★★★★★

Appearing as part of the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival, Bianco continues until 22 January 2017. Tickets are £30-£39.50. Please see the official website for availability and show details.

All images: Tristram Kenton

NoFitState Circus: “We Owe A Debt To Margaret Thatcher”

Read more

For London’s circus fans, this is certainly a winter of content. Olivier Award winners La Soirée have pitched up in Leicester Square for another season, Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna is opening soon in the Royal Albert Hall and NoFitState are bringing their brilliant Bianco to London’s Southbank Centre almost four years after it was seen at the Roundhouse.

For Bianco, audiences and apparatus both move around inside their tent to create a dynamic and distinctive environment. The Cardiff-based crew behind the show have been going for thirty years and always strive to produce innovative and exciting circus. I asked NoFitState’s Artistic Director Tom Rack why we should go to see their latest show and where it all went right for his company.


We’re very much looking forward to seeing the new and improved Bianco. For those like me who last saw it in the Roundhouse, how would you say that Bianco has changed? And where has that change come from?

If we don’t change the show every year, we will get tired of it. And if we are tired of it, then that’s not good for the public. Every season a few people come and go in the natural way of things, new people bring a different energy and new acts and we get to shake everything up to keep it all fresh and exciting for both ourselves and the audience.

Bianco at the Roundhouse was nearly four years ago and, since the very beginning of this show’s journey, it has evolved a lot, new music, new acts, new people but it still has the same spirit and the same structure. It’s still Bianco but grown and matured with age and a lot of hard work.

 

NoFit State has reached the grand old age of 30. What would you say were the turning points for yourselves as a company? Were they down more to circumstances, strokes of luck or new ideas?

In 1995, we did our first promenade show Autogeddon and this was the first time we worked with director Firenza Guidi. It was a big but low-budget circus show in a warehouse which gave us both lots of ideas and food for thought for when we came back together in 2004 for our first touring show ImMortal.

It was the beginning of the long and close collaboration that has got us where we are today. Having said that, we also owe a debt to Mrs Thatcher and Mr Tebbit who created the enterprise allowance scheme; it allowed us to get young people off the dole figures. In those days there were no circus schools, we learnt our craft on the streets and, without their help, we wouldn’t have survived.

 

NoFitState's Artistic Director Tom Rack
NoFitState’s Artistic Director Tom Rack

 

NoFit State’s works have been described for over a decade as “no ordinary circus”. That makes for a sexy tagline but is it something that forces you to think more out of the box when it comes to devising productions?

I think when you surround yourself with extraordinary people, the only thing that is impossible is to be ordinary.

It’s not possible to keep circus people in any kind of box and everyone we work with inspires us to do something a bit different and to push at what’s possible. In these circumstances, innovation and originality are inevitable. The day we become ordinary is the day we fail.

 

Bianco has many forward-thinking concepts, not least being a dynamic promenade experience with a live band playing an original score. How are the core concepts formulated for each show? Is it wholly collaborative or does one person take the lead? Has that process changed over time?

For Bianco, the initial concepts come from Firenza who will first propose a scrapbook of ideas and images, concepts and pretexts. Then the creative team all joins in to interpret them and propose different ways they can be developed and realised.

From there, the designs and manifestations are developed and delivered and the individual artists become involved. Firenza will give them impulses or problems that they use to create the dramaturgy and chorography of their act.

Firenza very much takes the lead but it is a massive combined effort that gets it all into place.

 

A scen from Bianco by NoFit State Circus @ Big Top, Southbank Centre. Directed by Firenza Guidi. (Opening 23-11-16) ©Tristram Kenton 11/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

 

We live in austere times so why should people go out of their way to see a circus show now of all times?

Even the Romans believed in this: “two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.”

We like to think there is something for everybody in our work, it can be enjoyed and appreciated on every level by everybody. Circus can gives you thrills, lifts your spirits and make your heart race, make you feel alive. But done right it can also touch your soul and let you escape. And who doesn’t need that?

 

Please settle a bet. Is the name of your company a play on words along the lines of Moscow State Circus or something to do with the condition of the circus artists in the company?

The honest answer is both. Thirty years ago, it was about street performing, festivals and clubs and everything that went along with that. Late one night, we were trying to come up with our name and we looked at other circus names. There was Moscow State, Chinese State and the Netherlands State all working the circuit and the idea of being NoFit State made us giggle and it stuck. These days, though, the culture of the company is very different and I still like to think we are Not in a Fit State to be mainstream and our anarchist spirit is still alive and gets out now and again.

Bianco continues until 22 January 2017 on the South Bank. Tickets are £25-£39.50. More information can be found on the Southbank Centre website.

Cast pictures: Tristram Kenton

Say Hello To The Hot New Acts Of La Soirée

Jarred Dewey in La Soiree. Image: Dan Govan.Read more

 

One of the biggest names in world cabaret strolls casually back into town next week as La Soirée opens a new season of shows in central London.

Leicester Square, an area largely known for tourists, shops that only tourists would patronise, more tourists and quick stop restaurants full of tourists, has a brand new attraction in the form of a Spiegeltent dedicated to La Soirée’s 2016/2017 London season.

The globetrotting variety show started life about a mile away from its current base. Six years ago, it set up camp on the South Bank with a cast that included Meow Meow, David O’Mer (aka Bath Boy), Ursula Martinez, the English Gents and Captain Frodo.

The latter three are all now La Soiree regulars and they’ll be joined by some less familiar faces.


Acantha Lang

The songbird from New Orleans has performed at the West End branch of The Box before but makes her La Soirée bow here this month. Her soulful voice can be heard on her LP Know Your Name; a portion of the proceeds from that album will go towards supporting The Big Issue and other members of the International Network of Street Papers. Pin back your ears and enjoy the title track.

Olivia Porter

Combining theatre and circus, Olivia Porter is a Brisbane based circus performer whose brings deadpan comedy and role playing to her unique juggling style. She has been performing internationally since 2008 and has toured widely with her own circus company 3 Is A Crowd.

Satya Bella

What goes around comes around is something every hoop artist will tell you and that particular corner of cabaret has never been more popular. Satya Bella has performed from Beirut to Perth, Dubai and Mexico. The lady may be short of height but she goes long on the spectactular if her performance here is anything to go by.

David Girard

It is not every acrobat that can say that have created their own unique apparatus. Girard may start off looking like a human hamster inside his Cirqle but watch how he uses his strength and flexibility to create something rather beautiful.

Jarred Dewey

There are many who will be looking up to Jarred Dewey in the Spiegeltent this year. The trapeze artist has thrilled audiences in both hemispheres and will be bring his high-flying act to London for the first time with La Soirée.

Jarred Dewey in La Soirée. Image: Dan Govan.
Jarred Dewey in La Soirée. Image: Dan Govan.

 

Daredevil Chickens

Fusing naughty slapstick and 80s pop melodrama, Marc and Svetlana are proof that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. Watch them here entertaining a crowd at Belfast’s Festival of Fools.

La Soirée opens this Wednesday and continues until 8 January 2017. More information can be found on the official website.

Review: Briefs, London Wonderground

Briefs 2016Read more

 

An all-male Aussie ‘burlesque show with balls’, Briefs bounds energetically back into London’s Southbank’s quirky London Wonderground. Four hundred years after Shakespeare’s gender experimenting plays drew gasps at the Globe and bear pits and brothels lined the streets of Bankside, it is nice to know that licentiousness still has a haven in this historic area.

But, while the pleasures of burlesque or boylesque lies in the power to thrill, surprise and subvert, this show which has barely changed over the last four years felt very short of that mark. True, there is a new face on board in drag performer James Welsby but most are familiar too (not least host Fez Fa’Anana and his fellow cast members Captain Kidd and Evil Hate Monkey).

This may be harsh on the good spirited show, perhaps; among the short performance segments (Briefs in name, brief in nature) there were some highly admirable acts.

Firstly and the act that opened the night, was Thom Worrell, one of Australia’s leading aerialists and contortionists. Bending and gliding through his suspended hoop, he brought sensuality to his routine. Thom’s dexterity seemed effortless and almost feline, as if he was stroking and not grabbing onto his apparatus.

The next standout act was a clown routine from Evil Hate Monkey (Adam Krandle) involving undressing a banana. As Krandle unpeels his banana strip by strip, he is visibly struck with pleasure and pain and we enjoyed the awkward surprise of a man in the audience made to eat it. It also had added value for anyone familiar with Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play, Krapp’s Last Tape and its fixation on banana unpeeling for the long opening scene.

But, as a boylesque virgin, we felt let down elsewhere with the lack of creativity, surprise and ingenuity. There was a hula hoop wielding cowboy, a school boy (Louis Biggs) playing with rulers and apples and a Madonna-inspired dancer shaking off her leather to reveal nipple tassels. We even had the King of Burlesque 2011 himself, Captain Kidd, who, glugging and spouting mouthfuls from the massive water bowl prop and striking poses on his trapeze, provided the finale as a sort of real life water statue.

These routines were pleasant but they lacked spark, wit and creativity. It’s strange in some ways this show is four years on the road and still has stayed roughly the same. There were no massive ideas here, or clever choreography that would warrant keeping. At the same venue we recently saw Between the Sheets with its naughty take on the airline safety briefing – that was sexy, funny, subverting and imaginative. Why not offer the same from the guys? 

Thanks to its positive vibe and spirit, the show still provides a good time and there is good patter from the elegant and charismatic Fez Fa’Anana, which brings the disparate parts together.

Briefs was ultimately pretty, but failed to stimulate the mind for us. What can we say, we want the lot – talent beauty and brains. Is that too much to ask from the boys?

Thank you to our guest reviewer Belinda Liversedge!

Briefs is at London Wonderground until 24 September at the London Wonderground. Tickets: from £17.00 (includes £1 online booking fee). More information: http://www.londonwonderground.co.uk/whats-on/briefs1