15 posts categorized "Circus & cabaret" Feed

Back at the theatre at last...to see socially distanced stand up comedy at Battersea Arts Centre

When theatres had to close in March, I thought it might be a month or two before I was back watching live performance again.

Stan fran andrew

As the weeks passed, it became obvious that it was going to be much, much longer and I stopped thinking about when I might return.

Did I imagine, that at the beginning of August I'd be sitting on a wooden bench wearing a mask with 30, socially distanced, others waiting for a live performance to being?

No.

The live performance was a series of stand-up comedian's headlined by Ed Gamble and wooden bench was in a courtyard at Battersea Arts Centre. 

With indoor theatres still closed, it is a genius use of outdoor space which also has a balcony level where some more people could stand.

So what was the experience like?

Continue reading "Back at the theatre at last...to see socially distanced stand up comedy at Battersea Arts Centre" »


Review: NoFit State's Lexicon, Roundhouse - a few nail-biting thrills and an air of carefree fun and mischief

NoFit State's latest circus show Lexicon starts before the start with the band larking among the audience as they arrive making a competing cacophony with various wind instruments.

Luke-Hallgarten-in-NoFit-States-Lexicon-at-the-Roundhouse.-Credit-David-Levene-3
Luke Hallgarten in NoFit States Lexicon, Roundhouse. Photo: David Levene.

Do I sound old if I say it was a bit loud and well, annoying?

It doesn't settle down much when the show officially starts with the performers forming an unruly class of school kids, complete with old fashioned school desks for props.

There is a lot of competing noise and activity accompanied by loud live music and it wasn't until the show moved on to the first solo aerial act with straps that it got into a (calmer) stride.

Singers accompanied the live music and it is as much about grace as it is strength and the jeopardy of being so high with no safety net.

Continue reading "Review: NoFit State's Lexicon, Roundhouse - a few nail-biting thrills and an air of carefree fun and mischief" »


Review: La Clique, Spiegeltent Leicester Square - Sexy, saucy, wow moments and laughs

There is a festive start to the La Clique cabaret of song and acrobatic show but naturally, it is ironic.

Zoe Marshall Lydia Norman La Clique
Zoe Marshall and Lydia Norman in La Clique. Photo Craig Sugden.

This is the church of misfits and weirdos where difference is celebrated in a decadent, saucy and sometimes humorous way. 

Our hostess/compere for the evening is Bernie Dieter, whom I saw in a similar role for Little Death Club on the South Bank in April.

In a sequined catsuit and towering stilettos, she sets a tone that pushes beyond suggestiveness, singling out audience members for humourous/cringe-worthy humiliation (don't sit near the front if you want to left alone).

She launches us towards a dazzling array of acrobatics and circus acts with live music accompaniment by singer Kelly Wolfgramm and band.

Dieter pops up from time to time throughout - if you've seen her before her repertoire will be familiar - and Wolfgramm also comes forward to perform songs periodically (cue an impromptu singalong to her version of Roxette's It Must Have Been Love).

Acts with added sauce and sexiness

The acts may be familiar - aerial acrobatics, hair hanging, juggling, sword swallowing, fire eating etc but each is delivered with a brash sauciness, the costumes often looking like something from the window display of Agent Provocateur or a men's aftershave advert.

Nonetheless, you can't accuse the performers of using titillation as cheap entertainment, they are extremely skilled often bringing a fresh edge to the familiar.

Continue reading "Review: La Clique, Spiegeltent Leicester Square - Sexy, saucy, wow moments and laughs" »


Review: Little Death Club, Underbelly - flaming nipple-tassels, dick pics and drag queens

Little Death Club is a cabaret of the late night variety, a kind of seductive circus of misfits and certainly not for the prudish.

Bernie Dieter and the Band in Little Death Club at Underbelly Festival Southbank - Credit Alistair Veryard Photography
Bernie Dieter and the Band in Little Death Club at Underbelly Festival Southbank - Photo: Alistair Veryard Photography

Introduced by the catsuit and feathers-wearing Bernie Dieter the club, we are told, is all about looking up from our phones, really seeing each other and throwing inhibitions to one side.

To demonstrate she heads into the audience to be stroked and touched, in a cringe-a-long experience that perhaps goes on a bit longer than its entertainment value justifies.

Bernie reappears between acts with bawdy songs - one is themed around a dick pic she was sent (which she shares). 

Continue reading "Review: Little Death Club, Underbelly - flaming nipple-tassels, dick pics and drag queens" »


Review: Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall - joyous, thrilling and fun

Circus 1903 is a joyous show it brings wonder, thrills and humour back to the circus.

1.-Circus-1903-Southbank-Centres-Royal-Festival-Hall-December-2018-Photo-credit-Manuel-Harlan
Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall. Photo Manuel Harlan


Circus 1903 is a journey back in time to the huge travelling shows of early 20th century America which unearths new levels of thrills and entertainment.

Who would have thought that good old-fashioned knife throwing acts, balancing, acrobatics and contortionists could be quite as breathtaking to watch?

Ringmaster Willie Whipsnade is the guiding force, he introduces the acts with a classic flourish, filling interludes with magic, humour and audience interaction which mostly involves children who have volunteered to go up on stage and help.

These segments are important moments of bubbling frivolity and laughter, a touch of lightness before the next thrills begin.

Continue reading "Review: Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall - joyous, thrilling and fun" »


Interview: Circa's hula hoop artist Jessica Connell talks making Peepshow and common misconceptions about acrobatics

Jessica Connell is a hula hoop artist performing in Circa's Peepshow at the Underbelly. She talks about creating the show, training schedules and popular misconceptions about acrobatics.

062718TOR618UnderbellyCircaPeepShowProduction001
Jessica Connell performs in Circa's Peepshow

What was the inspiration behind Circa’s Peepshow?

The inspiration behind the show is about seeing and being seen. We were inspired by the idea of how people see one another. The action we take, how we dress, what we say all influence how we are seen by others. 

Why should people come and see it?

Peepshow is a raw, risky, honest show that I am still excited to have helped create and be performing. We are seven acrobats on stage. We work together as an ensemble and we all have something to share with the audience. There is humour, great skills, great music including an original composition and we have worked hard to explore new acts and styles to express our art-form.
 
The lighting is also exciting. There are moments in the show where I am performing acrobatics in different styles of lighting I have never performed acrobatics or hula hoops in before. It creates great challenges and opportunities for us in our show.

How do you put a show together?

The Ensemble with our Director Yaron Lifschitz and associate director Libby McDonald work to explore concepts and themes. Sometimes our director comes in with a track or an idea and we explore that idea physically.

There is a lot of experimentation and a show can change a lot from day one. Some ideas change beyond recognition, others grow and some don’t make it in the show at all.

It is also a very free environment to work in. We have lots of discussions and are free to bring ideas into the room.  

What is the hardest bit?

Everyone will find different aspects of the show hard depending on their role. I perform hula hoops with the ensemble; they lift me, twist me and throw hoops to me.

Performing my skills like this is new and an exciting and challenging act we have created for Peepshow. 

Continue reading "Interview: Circa's hula hoop artist Jessica Connell talks making Peepshow and common misconceptions about acrobatics" »


Underbelly review: Sassy, cheeky and playful Circa's Peepshow - sweet dreams are made of this

You leave feeling like you've experienced something like a strange but comforting dream; sweet, sassy and definitely sparkling with spectacle.

Underbelly Circa Peep Show Production the other richard
Circa's Peepshow, photo by The Other Richard

A combination of dance tumbles and seemingly impossible acrobatics Circa's Peepshow has more about it than just human daring, physical ability and skill.

Moments akin to an interpretative movement piece suggest - at different times - metamorphosis, mechanical breakdown or something from natural the world.

Sometimes an individual, sometimes performed collectively like one organic mass, interweaving the dance-like movements with small but impressive physical feats that might build to something quite spectacular that has the audience astonished.

Sassy and sexy

Throughout the show is injected with a sassiness, a sexiness but also something that is cheeky, playful and innocent.

The pace varies. There are beautiful gliding movements forming static shapes that feel at home in the natural world but incongruous with the human body that is creating them.

Faster piece exudes muscular energy often coupled with an almost bolshy rough and tumble, bodies hitting the stage with such crashes as to draw sharp intakes of breath from those watching.

Continue reading "Underbelly review: Sassy, cheeky and playful Circa's Peepshow - sweet dreams are made of this" »


Review: Dazzling, nerve-jangling and toe-tapping Circolombia, Underbelly

A street-edged show of dazzling and nerve-jangling acrobatics which captures a joyful, c'est la vie camaraderie while entertaining with the most jaw-dropping feats.

CircolombiaThe Circolombia troupe of 13 singers and acrobats chorus: 'A deep breath as I walk, as I fly and as I fall' and it is an appropriate summation of the essence and tone of their performances. 

Direct from Colombia, this street-edged show of dazzling and nerve-jangling acrobatics captures a joyful, c'est la vie camaraderie while entertaining with the most jaw-dropping feats.

Acrobatic dance

Live rap and backing beats with a Colombian-flavour interlace acrobatic dance sequences and add pace to the tumbles and a rhythm of anticipation to faster segments.

The ensemble gathers for banquine, creating a human base from which to hurl each other through the air with controlled precariousness, landing with a perfect wobble on an adjacent base of human arms.

Later a teeterboard (seesaw to you and I) will propel Juan David Campo Teran higher and higher as if he is bouncing on a trampoline, building to a death-defying dismount complete with an applause-inducing array of twists and somersaults.

Continue reading "Review: Dazzling, nerve-jangling and toe-tapping Circolombia, Underbelly" »


Review: Hot, wet, bathtub acrobatics are good clean fun in SOAP, Underbelly Festival

It's a sexy show but good clean fun with a big dose of playfulness to much of what is performed

Try writing a review of comedy/acrobatic/opera show SOAP at Underbelly without using double entendres.

SOAP_WET_©_Dmitry_Shakhin-24_400x300I mean there are bathtubs, water, men in pants and pink balls for goodness sake.

Themed around bath-time, when the cast of acrobats, jugglers and red-welly wearing 'clown' (Marie-Andrée Lemaire) aren't frolicking, sliding in, hiding in and generally performing amazing feats in and around the roll-top tubs, they are squirting water, making watery music - or performing under a shower.

Splashes

Don't worry, those in the front row get some protection (from the splashes).

It's a sexy show but good clean fun with a big dose of playfulness to much of what is performed. 

 

Continue reading "Review: Hot, wet, bathtub acrobatics are good clean fun in SOAP, Underbelly Festival" »


Review: Ups and downs of La Soiree, Aldwych Theatre

It is the feats of dexterity, strength and balance - and some of the puppetry - which make this a mesmerising and exciting show to watch.

The beautiful Aldwych Theatre is hosting a winter season of La Soirée giving the cabaret/circus show a Moulin Rouge-style setting including on stage cafe-style chairs and tables.

But where Moulin Rouge is suggestive and saucy, La Soirée sometimes leaves nothing to the imagination and occasionally pushes the boundaries of good taste - you have been warned.

There is plenty to enjoy and entertain including some vertigo-inducing acrobatics (but don't sit too far back in the stalls or you'll miss some of it).

An exciting watch

It is the feats of dexterity, strength and balance - and some of the puppetry - which make this a mesmerising and exciting show to watch.

Some of it you may have seen before but there is plenty of stuff you won't have, for example, former gymnasts Leon and Klondi defy gravity with jaw-dropping balances at seemingly impossible angles and Michelle Clark's hula hoop act was especially clever and spell-binding to watch.

It was also the first time I'd seen Mallakhamb which was performed on a thick pole (a bit of post-show googling revealed it's an ancient Indian gymnastics-type sport). 

The two performers climb up and down the pole sometimes using only their legs to hold themselves in seemingly impossible positions or to catch themselves as they drop.

Electrifying Mallakhamb

They sometimes synchronise their movements, balances and holds or combine into even more complex feats. It was electrifying to watch and drew gasps from the audience.

Continue reading "Review: Ups and downs of La Soiree, Aldwych Theatre" »