Edinburgh Fringe 2013
A show of jaw dropping physical perfection, immersive theatre that is full of joie de vivre and exuberance. Escape from the humdrum – run away with NoFit State circus for a night.
This is a circus show for two types of people: people who like circus and people who don’t – and if you’re one of the latter, prepare to be converted.
NoFit State is no ordinary circus. Viscerally exciting, this is an exhilarating roller coaster ride of a show with circus performers at the top of their game. Not an old style circus full of sparkle and sequins, and hierarchies: instead this is raw, anarchic and totally absorbing. And all the way through you are right into the heart of the action, pushed this way and that by stewards as they move the massive towers of the set around.
Bianco is the story of the journey inside and outside ourselves, the battle between beauty and brutality. It’s about change and transformation, and out of the savagery and struggle come moments of intense beauty.
Above you, aerial theatrics are a joy to behold. August Daketeris’ act on aerial straps is an incredible show of skill and strength, his finely honed body displaying every muscle like a drawing from Leonardo Da Vinci’s mechanics of man, lit in a flood of light. The double trapeze from Freya Watson and Lyndall Merry is breathtaking, drawing audible gasps from below as they turn and tangle together.
Down below there’s a trampoline sequence reminiscent of the chimpanzee enclosure at the zoo as performers jump and somersault in animal athleticism, and clowning from performers running among us in ridiculous bathing costumes, their rubber rings awry. Hugo Oliviera juggles three balls and seven, balls effortlessly passing from one hand to another in an endless stream of motion.
Visually the show is stunning, beautifully lit with hazy smoke and streams of light creating still tableaux: a woman high up in the big top, her white dress flowing down as red rose petals flutter down.
The company is a unit, not a collection of individuals but a collective working together with and for each other, performers and riggers, band and stewards alike. Wonderfully there is a real equity and particularly in the gender balance. It is fantastic to see real women, beautiful not in the contorted distortions of today’s celebrity culture but perfectly honed bodies performing incredible feats.
And then there’s the four piece band, playing on throughout the show, entirely integrated with the performers, an effective new wave accompaniment to the action.
Bianco is loosely modelled on The Elephant Journey by Jose Saramago. The references to the book are fleeting, sometimes inaudible and don’t always feel tied to the activity on stage. But this really doesn’t matter: what unfolds before your eyes is so enthralling that the audience is a mass of upturned faces and open mouths.
As they rig and move the set, run around stewarding and perform exquisite balletics the company are interspersed among us. In breaking down the barriers between performers and audience, NoFit State circus achieves something special: rather than the distanced mythical creatures of more conventional theatre the performers are among us, ordinary creatures with extraordinary skills. Somehow we feel that as human beings we have that potential, perhaps we too could fly just for one night.
I went into the show, tired and a little jaded, and came out infused with joie de vivre and words from a Bowie song buzzing through my brain: ‘We can be heroes just for one day.’ And I felt that we could – can’t say fairer than that.