There are many categories of performance at The Fringe – something to suit all. From musicals to comedy, puppetry to spoken word, you name it – they’ve got it! One genre that particularly interests me is circus. I’m not sure whether it’s the excitement and sheer adrenaline rush you get whilst watching these incredibly muscular and toned athletes complete death defying stunts, or whether it’s that I like to pretend it’s me up there on the high-wire, staring down at hundreds of gob smacked faces. Either way, I know that never in a 100 years would I be able to complete the tricks and tumbles they skilfully perform on a nightly basis.
When Close Up by the Australian circus troupe Circa popped up, I thought I’d give it a go. We didn’t set off to a great start when the show went up twenty minutes late, however we must remind ourselves this is a fringe festival and not the West End, so the occasional misdemeanour may occur.
The show begins with a huge screen projecting artistic images of athletic bodies gliding through the air and up-close views of rippling muscles in slow motion, quivering from the impact of landing. We are introduced to a quartet of gymnasts (Daniel O’Brien, Todd Kilby, Lauren Herley and Lisa Goldsworthy) who are all incredible circus performers. Completely in tune with each other, they perform various routines tumbling over, under and beside each other. Audience participation plays a small role and slightly oddly, Todd Kilby performs a song on a guitar. These routines are expertly woven together and perfectly executed.
Each acrobat performs a solo piece and first up is O’Brien (aka ‘Dobbie’ or ‘The Heart Throb) who wows us with his infallible acro-balance. Second to follow is Herley on the Corde Lisse, demonstrating exquisite and graceful aerial work. My personal favourite is probably either Kilby on the Chinese Pole or Goldsworthy with her tremendous hula-hooping skills. Kilby’s performance is breath-taking, quite literally, although I find the ‘scene change banter’ slightly forced and inappropriate, and I can’t take my eyes off Goldsworthy who at one point has way over 20 hula hoops around her waist. She just makes it look so simple.
Overall, Close Up is extremely entertaining. I could easily return to watch the same show, or future productions by the company, and would whole-heartedly recommend it to friends. However, it is desperately calling out for some sort of theme. It’s great to go to the theatre and to be taken on a journey, or to be asked to use your own imagination or thoughts at some stage. This is simply a performance that lacks a through-line and links from one circus skill to the other are unclear and limited. This certainly shouldn’t put you off though as other times it’s lovely to sit down in a theatre and let four highly-talented performers wow you with their art form. This definitely ticks that box. 4/5
Review written by Ben Thornton & Katie Haygarth.
Close Up is currently showing at the Underbelly George Square as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival until Monday 31st August. For more information on the production, visit here…