CircusFest is big, bright, and bursting with talent, so much so that the standard of shows is very high. However No Show at the Sackler Space in the Roundhouse, seems more like a working progress than a fully polished performance (which, in a way, was their aim; being a show about not being a show, yet it did not live up to its full potential).
This all female production features incredible acrobatic skill, and the strong connection between the five performers is evident throughout. Their aim to avert away from creating a circus spectacle with huge fake smiles and perfect routines is certainly achieved. The organised awkward silences and dead ended routines exaggerate the this-is-not-a-show aspect, and makes us feel uncomfortable enough to listen to their message. At moments this is a successful technique, but after many elongated silences and being intensely stared at for the 8th time it, unfortunately, does not have the same impact.
One particularly captivating routine is when a performer comes on eager to speak to the audience, but is abruptly hushed up by two others who roughly manipulate her onto handstand canes where she silently obeys orders. Her strength and skill is astonishing, yet she constantly suffers harsh unhelpful comments about her ability and looks from other performers. This is cleverly executed and the tense atmosphere created is extremely powerful, it is clear the audience feel great sympathy for the girl (which is exactly the aim) as when the ordeal is over she receives a large round of applause, a noticeably under-compensation for what she has endured.
Another interesting moment is a conversational scene where a performer describes an acrobatic TV show she previously worked for where she was underestimated by her male counterparts, she then immediately performs a number of impressive handsprings and aerial cartwheels across the stage (her point landing as perfectly and as definitely as her tumbling!). So, although the pace of the piece is much the same throughout, with some sequences on the verge of just looking silly, the performance does have a few thought provoking highlights which are cleverly directed.
The underlying protest is understood; how female circus performers are constantly being directed to look beautiful rather than strong and extraordinarily skillful (and yes, this is a frustrating everyday occurrence for such talented women). Yet the energy in the small black box theatre seems to drop regularly. There is no doubt that this show has extreme potential and the performers are certainly talented and committed to the piece. However at CircusFest 2018 it would not be on the top of my watch list.
Review written by Lauren Maxwell.
No Show was shown from Wednesday 18th until Sunday 22nd April at the Roundhouse as part of CircusFest 2018. To find out more about the production, Visit here…