"Here be dragons"
As any regular reader will know, I don't tend to see much cirque. But the invitation to see NoFit State Circus' BIANCO was one that stood out for me, for I actually went to visit the company a few years ago when they were based at the Eden Project. I got to try out a few circus skills, though I didn't dare brave the trapeze!, and saw a sneak preview of the first part of the trilogy Time For Beauty too. It was a little far to go back for the whole show though, so I was glad of the opportunity to see them again, to see the third and final part - Here Be Dragons.
As part of the immersive nature of the production, and the connection that NoFit State seek to build with their audiences, the whole show is done in promenade. It's surprisingly easy on the feet though, even at 2 hours, but the reality of being shepherded a few feet that way and this soon proves to be somewhat trying, especially as you're thus constantly at the mercy of being stuck behind tall people and having your view severely compromised - it is definitely worth keeping your eyes open and your feet nimble to secure good positions at each juncture.
For the show is well worth seeing. Heavy on aerial work and acrobatics, up down and around the scaffolding structure that is reshaped after every act, the group of performers are clearly having a whale of a time. From egging each other on to go higher and higher to creating a human pulley system to the actual competition of a hula hoop-off, there's a sense of satisfaction to their work but it isn't one that always carries through to the audience. Despite all the moving around, there's not really the sense of connection that came through, say, with Barbu which felt much more inclusive.
That said, not everyone will need to feel included when watching performances of this calibre. And director Firenza Guidi has a clear eye for the theatrical. The staged chaos of the opening sequence is a great introduction to the work and the visual splendour of the final snowstorm comes across as a neat nod to pantomime convention. Much as I enjoyed it, for me there was a slight tendency towards the repetitive with some of the acts and I'd've done away with the interval but that would leave you standing too long. But there's no doubting how impressive the physical feats are here and that makes for a largely enjoyable evening - book now and you too could be dreaming of a BIANCO Christmas.
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Tristram Kenton
Booking until 22nd January