Edinburgh Fringe 2019
John is playing with his dolls (action figures) when Bev comes in and finds him after having played with her hoop. From there we get the relationship between them as grown up children trying to find a way of playing that allows Bev to be someone and John to support her in her choice. Her growth is hindered by a lack of confidence as she tries to push her physical boundaries. We get, through hoop work and balance work as well as dance the intensity of a friendship and the burgeoning responsibility of growing up to be your own hero and that of your best friend.
Technically this is a very good piece of circus work, both are very good at the floor work and aerial work that Bev manages to do includes the comic timing of getting it wrong – just wrong enough to be good, and bad enough to realise the skill. It creates the narrative of her trying to get better but wanting to give up whilst really, really wanting to be able to do it. Both John and Bev tease each other but ultimately end up being their own best support as she gets to be and he gets to be part of it all.
As a narrative it is interesting as opposed to mind blowing. The two performers clearly have a very good relationship between them to exploit. It allows the physical to find a language whilst leaving us in no doubt of what is happening. The issues that I did have were of pace and volume. Physically Bev and John have a very nuanced language but when talking they are quiet, sometimes too quiet and less comfortable. The pace then drops at times when we could do with things gaining momentum. It leaves parts of the piece over ponderous which is not in keeping with the idea and ideal of circus and physical theatre.
The soundscape is great and getting some of the standard hero type themes makes it a nodding acquaintance for most of us but again I wanted more of the visual and less of the aural.
There is little doubt that this Scottish based company have a lot to give. And set pieces including the balance work at the beginning, the hoop work at height where Bev struggles to gain control and some of the Johnny Depp/ Holly Willoughby stuff is fantastic to watch.
Pitching the idea of heroes and circus brought a lot of very small – some of them dressed up – young children into the performance. A number of them did not see the end of the show. I wondered if the pitch had been successfully made on this very wet day but of those kids who stayed they got a very decent finale.
I thought it a great way of bringing circus to them and with a snappier pace it would develop more readily into a new audience. I loved the finale and the resolution and it showed we have a team behind this who know how to structure the story. We can forgive some of the setting up work because of the safety of our performers but as time progresses and this company builds it is clear there are great foundations upon which to really build to the spectacular.