Edinburgh Fringe 2018
SHIFT is the new show created by Barely Methodical Troupe in association with Underbelly. This new show designed especially for the Spiegeltent space features guest artists Elihu Vazquez, Spains leading break dancer and Sweden’s top flyer Esmeralda Nikalojeff with Louis Gift and Charlie Wheeller.
Designed to SHIFT our expectation of a typical circus show this piece combines elements of contemporary dance, extraordinary displays of strength, circus and comedy to create this really exciting show.
Commissioned by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and co-produced by Norfolk and Norwich SHIFT plays at the Underbelly Circus Hub until the 25th August (not 8th, 13th, 20th)
The glory of the Spiegeltent was overflowing with eager audience members scurrying excitedly to their seats and they were not disappointed. The lights dimmed as smoke wafted across the stage to reveal Elihu Vazquez, Esmeralda Nikalojeff, Louis Gift and Charlie Wheeller at the edge of a precipice. A promising and dramatic start to a show that is billed to be different from all the rest.
Rubber bands of different sizes feature heavily throughout allowing the performers to resist, catch, bounce and fly to and from each other. Whilst stunning at points this device was sadly underused and some set ups, which appeared to be so so promising, sadly had no pay off. It would also have been nice to have some of the story elements expanded. There was a beautiful, touching story about walking through water in the hot sun, finding items of clothing hanging from trees but just as it became really touching it ended without an ending leaving you to believe it only existed to cover a ‘set up’ time for the next act. Which was a real shame.
The expected circus elements were well executed especially the cyr wheel expertly wielded by Charlie Wheeller. A nice touch being that the whole company where involved in this act at points making it more of a collaborative piece rather than simply an act following act. Elihu Vazquez was also superb adding his breakdancing flair into the creative melting pot. It was also wonderful to see these elements being used throughout the show especially where you wouldn’t expect them.
That is the beautiful and exciting defining quality of this show, the collaboration. All the performers worked together seamlessly and supporting each other even if it wasn’t their speciality. Esmeralda Nikalojeff was a highlight with her startling strength and daring, literally running up people at times with endless energy. Bodies twisting, rotating, plunging, lunging and flying left the audience open mouthed, in rapturous applause and on their feet by the end. This challenge of physicality and our expectations of physicality is where the show really excelled. This and a wonderful dance number really stood it apart from your average circus show. It felt like this show could have gone a couple of steps further with tying the stories together as some of the drama and movement sections really had promise but sadly weren’t given the stage time they deserved.
The spectacle however was immense and unrelenting. The lighting and sound brought the simple bare stage to life. The strength the performers have is astounding, but more importantly the trust and obvious warmth they have as a company really brought the performance together and set it apart. This is definitely not your average circus show.