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Review and production photos: Dark, powerful and funny Guards At The Taj, Bush Theatre

Review: Precision and poise in Compagnie XY's #ItsNotYetMidnight, Roundhouse

Compagnie XY's It's Not Yet Midnight... (courtesy of David Levene) 5
Compagnie XY's It's Not Yet Midnight...Photo courtesy of David Levene

There is a group of 20 or so people on stage. The men are dressed in shirts and trousers, some with braces or waistcoats. Women similarly in shirts some with school girl style skirts or trousers. A push and shove breaks out building into full blown brawl.

All you can hear is the sound of their exerted breath and the slap of limbs or bodies hitting the stage. It looks quite vicious, frenetic but for the acrobatic flourishes which add incongruous moments of something more balletic.

It is dizzying to watch and a mere teaser for what is to come from French acrobatic troupe Compagnie XY's new show It's Not Yet Midnight. From here you are taken on a breathtaking journey of strength, poise, precision and co-ordination.

There are startling set pieces - double human height huddles that rotate, slowly collapse and then 'grow' again and then scenes where there are a multitude of feats being enacted on stage at the same time. Some of them are small no doubt looking much easier to do than they actually are - two people 'dancing' on the shoulders of one person, which you really have to see to fully appreciate, for example.

The pace quickens and slows, quickens and slows like heart beat, sometimes there is music, sometimes not, sometimes there are dance sequences or moments of comedy but all the time the stage oozes atmosphere.

Seesaw's come out to catapult acrobats to new heights and then later square boards are used to spring off, launch or catch acrobats. In one set piece, they are used to create something that looks like human tiers of a wedding cake.

My palms were sweating at the heights reached and risks the acrobats were taking but the grin never left my face. The first whoops and gasps started about 10 minutes in, gradually building and increasing in frequency as the show progresses. There was never a dull moment.

It's Not Yet Midnight is breathtaking and mesmerising and you can catch it at the Roundhouse until 23 April 2017. It is roughly an hour long and I'm giving it five stars.