As part of our 2018 Summer of Circus, we were privileged to welcome the UK's leading contemporary circus company NoFit State, alongside the pioneering dance company Motionhouse. Together they collaborated on the awe-inspiring circus show BLOCK and if you didn't get a chance to see it, here are some thoughts from reviewer Nicolette Alate.
Creative, Evocative and Utterly Engaging ★★★★
What can you do with a heap of large, grey identical blocks? When two talent-laden companies like this collaborate, it would seem you can do quite a lot. The blocks become alley ways, barriers, launch pads, even a sky-scraper. Through their interactions with the blocks and each-other, performers play out the contradictions of life in the city; the real and imagined threats and thrills of the concrete jungle.
The simplicity of the set keeps our focus on the action and a story unfolds with minimal effort from the audience.
Depending on the position, timing and motivation of the city’s inhabitants, the blocks present them with opportunities, pressurise or tempt them into taking risks, help them reach dizzy heights, provide them with escape routes. They also serve as dead ends, trap them, cramp them isolate them from others and compound their vulnerability. Characters reach out to find human connection. They grapple with the challenge of sharing the space and co-existing despite their differing perspectives. The outnumbered females, seemingly defined by patriarchy are seen kicking out in frustration against their lot at times. High –energy, emotive performances by the acrobats bring the experiences to life and an inspired musical score with dramatic strings and rhythms evoke the pulse, tension, times of despair and overwhelm of city-life. Relationships form and destruct and repeat themselves in sequences of movingly choreographed dance.
Dives, gymnastics, lifts and free-falls feel all the more exhilarating because the blocks they are performed on are assembled and disassembled before our eyes, with no attachments or pre -show rigging. They also offer a thrilling wobble-factor when piled high. At their highest they form a tower block, built in a jovial spirit of collaboration and efficiency and seeming to reward characters with a place they can live alongside each-other but still have individual living space. A sustainable solution you can trust or a recipe for social disaster? Like the city it represents, the structure resembles a giant game of jenga, ..enough said.
There was scope for more variety in the dance and acrobatics but the show is lively and satisfying and gives reason to look to this pairing for ever more exciting innovations in the future.
Review by Nicolette Alate
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