Circuit

Devised by Daniel Winder and the company
Iris Theatre
St Pauls Church, Covent Garden
(2011)

Circuit production photo

Iris Theatre are nothing if not eclectic. In the last few years they have presented everything from baroque opera to children's classics, classic Greek drama to slam poets, Shakespeare to Music Hall; now they have a show, Circuit, that forefronts circus skills and contemporary dance, a sort of dystopian dream of android musicians, human spiders and strange creatures in the 'dark fairy-tale world of Xiàmàn' into which an innocent child seems to have fallen..

What, if anything, it is all about I have no idea. It is presented as a work in progress and perhaps, as it progresses, its content will be clarified, but its apparitions and transitions do not need to follow an ordinary logic; they obey the laws of dream. These beings interact and there is both tension and apparent affection amongst them and they exude a powerful theatrical atmosphere.

This is a world where strange objects, including some sort of quadruped, hang from the church's chandeliers. In a misty atmosphere cut through by beams of light, a single hanging rope is multiplied by shadows, still figures are shrouded in plastic sheets waiting to be brought to life and a red balloon can take on a life of its own making its way up the central aisle and rising high into the air, descending, voluntarily it seems, when all is done.

Along the way there is some excellent lisse work by Will Davis, skilled trapeze work by Jono Ayres and Elissavet Aravidou, involving some amazing balances, and trampolining and juggling by Max Calaf Sevé and Daniel Rejano Romero, with Lois Tucker as the humanoid musician, Laura Wickham as a singing dreamer and Matthew Clancy as a strange ape-faced figure who seems to bring things to life with magic rays.

Holly Noble's choreography makes her dancers (Laurel Dalley-Smith, Rachel Maybank, Emma Fisher, Chandelle Allen and eye-catching Brett Murray) both playful and predatory and makes movement flow to and fro between them and the circus performers who are themselves often gracefully balletic

While movement links the whole work together it is supported by an interesting sound score by Robin McCarthy that begins with a low growling that rises to the power of jet engines and then ranges from strident violin bow strokes to tinkling celesta.

Director Daniel Winder and his team have produced something already eminently watchable; I wonder where they will take it from here.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton