Adelaide Fringe 2011
She’s a super slim Swede; he’s a boy from Belfast. Over the course of an hour this cute couple from Tumble Circus take us literally through the ups and downs of their fifteen-year relationship, using their tricks as metaphors for their personal experiences. The physical feats unfold organically and effortlessly gradually increasing in difficulty from a simple juggle to a spectacular trapeze routine. All the while the pair endear themselves to the audience with their quirky patter and slightly 60/70’s kitsch dress and music sense.
In the vast black theatre space of the Adelaide College of the Arts hangs a web rope, a trapeze, a red dress on a hanger over a crash-mat pillowed up as a bed plus a little table and chairs and two microphones on stands. It looks like a circus training room cum domestic space, which makes sense for this scenario about a couple living and working together for fifteen years. They enter in their too big shoes—Tina in her short shiny shorts, Ken in his mesh singlet and stovepipe jeans—and move to the microphones as though performing their wedding speeches.
They tell us about all the things they have shared as they begin to move out and up into the space, connected and supporting each others’ weight by a strap around the head, a wonderful image of a noose and an umbilical cord simultaneously. Their break-ups/make-ups are acted out in a series of skilful events—she juggling hoops as other lovers while he forlornly tosses confetti over the ‘deed’, he repeatedly retrieving roses from the top of the web rope to Gainsbourg’s “Je t’aime” to woo an audience member.
They build the action around and through different levels in the performing space, slipping between conversational patter and interactions with the audience to almost cartoon-like stylised acro-duets that roll and rearrange with a slow-motion ease. Their timing is terrific, inserting little gags as they move through incredibly difficult balances such as her taking off her shoe while standing on his head on one foot. The use of voice-overs during these duets adds another funny layer—Ken ponders his relationship with his mother just as he finds himself faced with Tina’s upside down crotch. They attend to the composition of the space when apart also. At the end of one duet (where a dress magically transfers from her body to his), she sustains a perfect handstand on a bench while he lays in counterpoint on the floor to her voiceover ruminating over his preference for a playstation over parenthood.
The finale is a breath-taking trapeze duet that had me mouth open and panting between suck in scared and sigh out giggle. There were a few uncomfortably twee moments mixed into the audience participation section (perhaps amplified by opening night nerves and intimate audience numbers), but these were insignificant next to their virtuosic partnering skills and their absolute cuteness.