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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Knee Deep


Genre: Circus


 Assembly George Square


Low Down

From the outset one can sense these are highly talented and engaging circus performers. If one was only judging their level of talent, five stars would not be enough. As a performance piece however it lacks direction and has an uncertain theme, though I would not say this detracts much overall. 


Made up of former members of several Australian circus companies, including Circa (who last wowed the Fringe in 2009), the newly formed troupe Casus arrives in Edinburgh hot off the heels of the Adelaide Fringe, and they do not disappoint. Such is the magnitude of their talent it can not be put into words and has to be seen to be believed. Therefore I will talk about staging. 


The atmosphere from the start is mysterious and expectant with a permeating hazy glow and a building soundtrack. The first scene, walking on eggs, is a slightly strange one and perhaps could have been delivered better, or elsewhere in the show, and I couldn’t help thinking ‘but they might not be real eggs!’ But the action soon has a flow and poise to it as they begin to tumble, hold and hurl each other about with consummate acrobatic excellence. And from here it just gets better and better. A routine by Emma Sarjeant, the only female member of the troupe, on top of four wobbly sticks like a tall upside down table is staggering. The aerial work is beautiful, and the incredible inter-weaving, balancing and climbing on one another reaches a climax on the trapeze with ever increasing levels of open mouthed incredulity apparent in the audience.


It seems to me like there are two shows going on here. On the one hand a sheer display of acro-skill with an underlying theme that explores the power of the body, of feminine tenderness against masculine strength; and on the other hand there are routines and scenes of an odd nature or uneven length that don’t seem to fit and break the flow, with the same theme but less subtly portrayed. Now this may possibly be the result of having to create an hour long show of primarily very tiring physical work, but I think these could have been better paced and structured. For example, a scene where Sarjeant hammers a nail into her nose feels a little odd, especially as there are no other scenes of this sort. And there is a very short scene of a lovely hula-hoop display that left me wanting more.


The likable and modest performers do not say a word and have a beautiful symmetry on stage. There is an incredible level of trust and exactness here, with each movement part of a science that has been honed. The problem with the structure is that the style of performance comes and goes at uneven times, that sometimes feels random. 


But these are all criticisms that could be remedied. I, for one, left this with my head buzzing and reeling with awe after joining the rest of the audience in a standing ovation. Go and see this show for the exceptional talent on display.