Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Don't Break My Balls & Quartet

Gandini Juggling
The Springboard Circus Performance Festival at the Circus Space
(2003)

It is such a pity that the productions on offer at the Springboard Festival only run for about three days. However, this is a show-case festival, allowing young talent committed to a departure from the word-bound linear narrative to show that theatre and I will go out on a limb and say that this work is theatre in its broadest sense...can be interdisciplinary and yet meaningful. What one gets from both pieces on offer is an invigorating sense of liveness, of the joy and playfulness of living itself, something which forms an apt counterpoint to the cynicism and pessimism of the postmodern world and the theatre that mirrors it.

As the title suggests, the evening is focussed on juggling skills and the second piece, Quartet, illustrates how skills can be worked into a breathtaking choreography to offer a show that is varied in tone and effect, funny and aesthetically delightful. The audience, myself included, were rapt.

It was the first piece, however, Don't Break My Balls - a witty pun, incidentally - that gave me a sense of something reaching out towards the sublime. Directed by Jean-Paul Zaccharini (whose own show Throat will be reprised at the Drill Hall for a few days shortly), it is a sensuous dance between two lovers superbly choreographed so that the balls they are juggling blend into the movement as they pass fluidly from hand to hand, almost imperceptibly, as an apt expression for their symbiosis.

Like chamber music, the piece is divided into movements. The first is a sinuous and erotic interweaving of bodies by performers who are as accomplished dancers as well as jugglers. The second is witty and funny as the man juggles alone while the woman runs symbolically through the gamut of frustrated attempts to insinuate herself between her lover and his self-obsession. In the third, the pace steps up as they move into ragtime and then into gentle and loving resolution, the balls in constant motion between them. It is beautiful and delightful in its invention: a microcosmic, yet optimistic, reflection on modern relationships.

Reviewer: Jackie Fletcher