Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Bromance – noun (informal). 1. A close but non-sexual relationship between two men. Early 21st-century: blend of brother and romance. Frenetic but friendly. Captivating but casual. Audacious but awkward. UK circus company Barely Methodical Troupe fuse their inner frats with a dazzling tour-de-force of cutting edge circus prowess and physical theatre mayhem.
Bromance is a circus show that tries to be more, exploring as it does the shifting relationships between men and brothers.
Beren, Charlie and Louis are very fit and talented performers who leap around the stage, jumping far higher into the air than should be possible from a standing start. One of them is big – very big, and two are quite small, which allows for much in the way of carrying, leaping, flinging and jumping.
It gets off to a slow start. Some words from a documentary about shaking hands plays over the PA, and the boys begin the show with handshakes, or rejected handshakes, or handshakes that fling someone across the room. It’s not a bad idea – this masculine symbol of greeting being examined and turned into circus. However, it goes on for too long, and the physical stuff is too low-key to justify the length of the scene.
What we see throughout the show is the ups and downs within the bonds of brotherhood; two against one, three mates mucking around together, penis envy. The boys are great acrobats, and the physical stuff is top notch, but the acting of these relationships is a bit forced. There is too much sulking and petulance and not enough action to maintain my attention throughout.
Where they excel is in the high-risk tricks, and when they perform to music. They do a fabulously frightening act where they stand on one another’s shoulders, and there is also an impressive head-balancing scene. Within their circus they try to convey ideas of boys’ one-upmanship and risk taking in the face of peer pressure, however, I felt that they could have taken this further, seeing as it can be such a feature of life in a pack of boys, and they are talented performers who could play with danger in such a way as to seriously frighten an audience.
Bromance is a good show, but not a great show. Their acrobatic skills are excellent, but by pushing it a bit further could probably have been extraordinary. It is enough to have a vague guiding story around brotherly relationships in a circus piece like this, but ultimately it needs to add more to the show before it gets dwelt on quite so much. However, the show clearly appealed to the audience who gave it a standing ovation, and it is definitely worth going to see if you get the chance.