Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Coming to Edinburgh from sold-out houses at the Roundhouse and London International Mime Festival 2022. Barely Methodical Troupe is at the forefront of a new kind of physical performance, creating highly entertaining shows that mix the show-stopping acrobatics of circus with the emotional punch of theatre.
6 performers ( 4 men and 2 woman) take the stage as a highly sympathetic group, and we quickly realize that this is a clown team auditioning for a stern-faced silent woman sitting next to a buzzer and a red telephone. She calls them singly to perform, and in classic clown mode they are all cut short in action or explanation by the buzzer. They unite in an attempt to please the “judge” and do earnest and simple gymnastics in duets and then in unison. She remains impassive. And then- the entire piece shifts. The female clown is called out of the group and mumbles her way through an interview with the judge, and the judge clearly wants more. So she exits the stage and returns with a hoop, just big enough for her body to fit inside spread eagled, and suddenly what was a clown piece with some gentle circus, becomes an exhilarating expression of ability and joy. The hoop spins and twirls with her unexpectedly inside of it in an entirely organic choreography of gravity and balance. We are amazed. And even the stern woman approves with a small nod, and awards her—— a banana! (to the approval and congratulations of the rest of the group). And this is just the beginning of an incredibly joyful hour of high octane group dynamics where each of the clowns takes center stage
The piece develops beautifully in complexity and rivalry, and the antics are now joined by the judge as performer. The judge (played by the excellent Nikki Rummer) without losing a beat of quiet superiority; joins the group as a new showpiece, demonstrating exquisitely lyrical gymnastic technique. It would be hard not to love this performance. The performances are strong, and all of the theatrical characters re-appear in complete harmony with their acrobatics. Especially theatrically gifted are the two women, whose gymnastic skills are highlighted in the plot. The troupe of men working as a fractious gang, are endearingly familiar, almost cartoon-like in their simplicity with quite a few tricks up their sleeves. And in the end, the judge makes a choice.
This is exhilarating performance: circus without being “spectacle” and clown where the clowns have real agency. And as the title suggests, it is a piece about the competition of family as well as athletes, where everyone strives to be seen. Go and be happy. The audience was rapt. The unique combination of gymnastic prowess and a plot where I actually feel the circus skills are motivated by intention makes this a step above excellent performance. This is a Must See Show.