I like seeing a show without expectation, so I do minimal research beforehand and be led purely by what I see on the stage. And what I saw this evening, By a Thread presented by One Fell Swoop Circus, was nothing short of magical.
A thick, white rope strung between 2 large pulleys suspended from the top of The Peacock in a spotlight, greeted the audience as we took our seats.
Soon, there were bodies clad in jeans and white tank tops entering the arena to take turns in pulling one end of the rope to unravel it upwards. Our attention is then drawn to a scream as a young woman, Ellen, swings on the other end into the crowd. This performer astounds me.
She looks as graceful as a gazelle and delicate as a rose, but the strength her body has is incredible!
All the performers are spectacularly powerful, agile, elegant and athletic. And there is no prejudice between the roles the performers play.
Women being lifters and the base at times, while the men flaunted style and smoothness in their movements.
Charice Rust, co-director and creator, displayed her abilities on the straps with the other performers counter-balancing her – this was one of my favourite scenes. Such a strong, functional body. You could see every muscle fibre on fire!
They would twist and contort their bodies into the circus apparatus – one of the performers became the trapeze bar with another standing atop and swinging.
A series of duos between the men/men, women/women and men/women were synchronised and beautifully choreographed in order for the audience to absorb the acrobatic relationships of trust, risk and communication that is fundamental in circus.
Another stand out scene was the enchanting duet between real life couple Charice and Jonathan Morgan.
Awe inspiring and gravity defying with a hint of playfulness, and huge amount of connection.
Just aesthetically bewitching to watch.
I loved one of the last whimsical scenes where they each took turns to pass the rope to each other, through use of only their toes, while in various states of handstands. Very clever indeed!
Fantastic lighting design by After Dark Theatre, and a sublime soundtrack by Lee Stout that went from soft and playful to dark and dramatic without being overbearing.
Dramaturg Zebastian Hunter should be congratulated on assisting the performers in engaging the audience by telling their story with such authenticity.
These guys aren’t actors, but they spoke a truth of joy with their faces and bodies the entire time, and there was a never a feeling of unease or precariousness.
I was so dazzled the entire time, I sat there with either my mouth wide open or with the biggest smile on my face.
If you’ve seen silks and aerial and think you’ve seen it all, think again.
By a Thread will wrap you up and hoist you through a breathtaking journey of contemporary circus.
And how they performed these incredible feats in jeans is still beyond me.
I struggle to pick up my kids toys wearing jeans…!
Happy theatre travels…
This review also features on the Theatre Travels website – www.theatretravels.org