Theatre in Wales

Plays and dance productions in Wales since 1982...

 
ImMortal
First presented in 2004 by Nofit State Circus

synopsis:
ImMortal
coming out alive

Directed by Firenza Guidi
Immortal is a journey into what it means to be human.

It is a world of truths turned upside down, hilarious yet tragic, always on the move, but with pegs sunk deep. It’s where west meets east.
Immortal is a world populated by humanity high and low. Who are these creatures, familiar yet unknown? Are they survivors of a revolution? Or gods coming from afar?
Are they actors in a forgotten film-set? Have they been or are they yet to come?
Are they memory or future?

Immortal is a unique, timeless experience where the spectator enters the performance world and doesn’t simply watch it. It's an event, a multimedia promenade where action explodes all around you, above and below.

It is a circus, a rotating spectacle of humanity at its naughtiest: human beings as crossroads of memory, history, faded pictures, blurred birth certificates, and uncertain mothers. A diorama of what is most tragically funny: a party, a bacchanal, a furious wedding dance. It is a total show, where music keeps the time and theatre has no numbered seats to map out the forbidden space.

Come and watch closely: CCTV, lacing real and virtual, make spying a new art form: you'll find traces of a self, a place, a past, a sound, a pleasure, a memory, an image - connecting future to a sudden death.

Immortal is daring, ambitious, anarchic, surreal,
magical, breath-taking, thought-provoking and funny. Excessive and irreverent, Immortal is a spectacular meditation on one of the biggest questions of the human race: are we immortal?

Firenza Guidi, March 04
 

   There are 16 reviews of Nofit State Circus's ImMortal in our database:
Blokes on ropes is always a hit......
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Cooper's Field Cardiff
August-06-02
It’s lucky that No Fit State at last have their own venue – the spectacular silver and pink flying-saucer tent – as it means they can start and end shows as when they please without incurring hefty fines! Immortal begins with an epic, largely uneventful pre-show, allowing the audience to wander freely around the space (defined by a series of raised rakes just inside the marquee perimeter) and explore clandestine installations. Occasional, delicious moments punctuate the period, such as being offered some knocked off immortality from the coat lining of a dodgy geezer-gal, or being passed by a pair of pseudo-gurus in white robes, dinging counter-bells balanced upon their heads.

The show itself explores the notion of immortality through a young lad’s experiences in a strange world, of the experiments of a bonkers-mad scientist, first attempting to give a lab-rat (the only animal in sight) eternal life; a neurotic group of slightly 1950s looking keep-fitters, led by a woman on an obsessive quest to retain a youthful image who eventually clones herself; another neurotic woman, this time a wannabe starlet desperate for her image to live on in pop and more abstract characters representing life and death.

Ian Devereux made a fantastic entrance as always with his regal elegance and powerful stage presence, in a fantastic silvery cloak, skirts and bodice, clutching a closed fan, opening it in one movement to deposit glitter into the ether. The accompanying music at this point was mellow, moving and uplifting, with the occasional moment of delicious feedback.

The band comprised an accordionist, flautist amongst more common instruments, but they occasionally obscured the vocals of performers when singing solo, except for the quite amazing dead singer playing Death. Her voice was affected by sensitive use of delay and echo, not that she needed enhancement, but it added a touch of otherness.

The non-linear narrative style of ‘Immortal’ lends itself well to the inclusion of various community groups, playing out their interpretation of the theme through hip-hop dancing and rap for example. Although some of these scenes seemed a little disparate from the main body of the show at times, it is good that the audience of ‘Immortal’ is challenged to think and make its own connections between the many images they see, as circus is traditionally such an obvious medium. Dance troupe Neutrino’s contribution involved interaction between performer and costume, some pulling and stretching the elastic strings wrapped around and attached to the punk-ballerina-leotard-suits of others, making brilliant would-be publicity shots for the future!

One of the sexiest things about ‘Immortal’, or almost any circus show, is the Arial performance element – blokes on ropes is always a hit, and the topless technicians covered in glitter deserve a mention for sure. The fire-swinging scene was pretty spectacular, as the audience was completely surrounded by a myriad of performers each moving with their own individualistic style and speed. There was also some brilliant video work slickly projected on oval screens with quality equipment, depicting binary code flickering against brain and baby imagery, the cloning scene and a hilarious, pre-recorded nudey streak-chase through the park following the climactic and dynamic ‘Suicide Game’ (lots of tumbles and bungee dives); it was just such a disappointment when the cast re-turned to stage wearing their pants.

(The least sexy part of the show was the over-repetitive clockwork choreography danced by the chorus towards the end, as every performer there has the potential to do more unfulfilled by the over-use of this particular routine).

Ultimately we were showed the suffering of the characters on a mission to become immortal, and the final succumbing of life to death was portrayed with a lot more beauty, and a lot less pain than we imagine or expect for ourselves and our dearly departed."
reviewer:
Zoe Hewett
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Pontypridd
June-08-04
Emotion. Energy. And movement — lasting impressions from visual artist Firenza Guidi’s recent work, Immortal, which I viewed on the opening night of the show, May 12 at the Ynysangharad Park in Pontypridd, Wales. In this piece that Firenza created for the NoFitState Circus, she combines varied elements and different media that make for a richer viewing experience. At the heart of the piece is a gripping performance by trapeze artists who explore the space of a circus and through that a beyond…to the depths of experience, sensation and feeling. Immortal traverses vast moments of being. And in doing this it very subtly leads the viewer more towards the intangible.

Immortal is difficult to discuss. It hangs on to you, in a very personal way, even after it’s over. Very summarily and simply, which is no way indicates its immensity or depth, the piece parallels a journey — one the audience not only sees unfold, but participates in by being exercised both metaphorically and literally. All the elements of the show make for points of invitation into this journey, such that like the performers who circulate in and inhabit every bit of the space, the viewer too is compelled to move for keeping up with the performance and through that, visiting and revisiting diverse spaces, times and sensations.

Given Firenza’s specialism in site-specific performances, it is her approach to the space itself that is central in motivating the varied dynamics of movement within the larger visual experience. This approach comprises a kind of an unpacking, a meditation, in terms of the site’s specificity and associations. Backed by a spread of performances she has developed in countries across the world, Firenza invests in Immortal latent meanings and significance/s akin to the shapes (the circle) and patterns of the circus space that are derived from disparate socio-cultural milieus. I am reminded here especially of the second half of the show when an earthen pot is broken evoking and extending the experience of death. Firenza’s impulse coincides with and can be traced in the Hindu rites of death wherein the action metonymically stands in for the transmigration of the soul and its merger within the vast ocean of existence or Brahman.

Earlier in the piece Firenza depicts two brides, contrasting in form: the first occupies an elaborate white costume with hoops that support flowing fabric, which touches the ground even while the performer’s body is above it. The second bride is dressed in a simple black outfit that in colour and construction juxtaposes with the first making for a strong vertical formation. Both the brides circulate in the air supported by gear that suspends them. Here again are resonances from a traditional Hindu wedding, wherein the bride and groom make vows in front of a sacred fire and walk around it seven times. This act bonds them together for eternity with the movement around the fire symbolising completeness — for a circle has no beginning or end. In moments such as this Firenza reveals great prudence and sensitivity to cultural dynamics. It is Immortal’s narrative coherence that facilitates the intercultural responses and exchanges while at the same time prompts re-working and embedding them in the piece.

More broadly, Immortal is a montage of disparate elements including a mix of media. The interactions between the media not only enliven the space, but in doing that push them to the edge and extend their particular scope such that all the elements stand in complimentary relation to each other. The circus-based performance, video animation, props exaggerated in scale… all comprise a kind of organic composition that is a distinct entity wherein it is hard to identify and separate individual parts.

Immortal abounds with juxtapositions that are enacted at a physical level, but effect in stimulating the viewer emotionally. Their force, timing and sustenance impact the viewer very emphatically at a subtle level which only indicates how delicately the piece has been conceived and threaded. One example is from one of the most poignant moments when a performer develops a movement on the cloud swing. A fine balance between the ‘physical’ i.e. the action and the ‘subtle’ in terms of meaning and stimulus, is achieved here through a daring use of sound — the performer’s own breath, which builds as the movement progresses. The commendable acumen and ease displayed by the performer aside; it is the aural atmosphere motivated by the sequence that overpowers the viewer and engulfs her in a scope of associations and meanings.

Formally the sequence is clean and exercises an economy of inputs. As it develops it builds the pure movement and sound towards an utterly primal, unrestrained sensation. Until it peaks, the sequence steadily renders the viewer almost mesmerized. The dynamism of the physical movement and the accompanying aural atmosphere combine to contradictorily still the viewer. This ‘still-ing’ of the viewer does not stem from anticipation. Rather, by immersing the viewer it leads her beyond the physical confines of space and time generally and the performance’s location specifically.

In those moments it was as though one had transcended the material and bodily dimensions of being. Any emotional or intellectual associations that this sequence or the piece as such may have motivated slowly dissolved as the action progressed. It was the delayed applause prompted by some sections of the audience that aided others to be reinstated back into the act of viewing as the performer descended from her gear. As I gathered in interactions after the show, I was not isolated in this response though the degrees of involvement varied among viewers.

Through such modes of interaction with the viewer Immortal achieved its intentions. It boldly depicted anything that could be held and understood as mortal. Yet through its workings and configurations it departed and resituated mortality. Immortal is a tremendous physical effort whose culmination is im-material and intangible. There are no verbal analogues for the visual and aural experience of Immortal. Perhaps all that can be articulated are its stylistic alignments and correspondences that foreground the abstract over the material, the un-manifest over the manifest; the mortal over the Immortal.
reviewer:
Aparna Sharma
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Manchesterr
June-14-04
NoFit State Circus has pared down the art of the big top, leaving out the animals, clichéd clown outfits and the seating. Drawing on similar sources as Cirque Du Soleil, is latest show is a sensual overload of aerial acrobatics, rope work, tumbling and performance art.

Turning tradition on its head, the audience stands in the centre of the tent, encircled by the performers, who weave in and out, directing attention from one set of gravity-defying tricks to the next.

Giggly ladies dressed in 1950’s swimwear breast-stroke through the air suspended by swathes of fabric, while frantic characters – ranging from a darkly comic suicidal housewife to a shy male acrobat chased by a lusty female – play-act among the crowd.

Only the overtly theatrical spoken-word segments mar the flow of this effortlessly modern piece anchored in circus’s burlesque past; there is barely a story, in any case, and there’s plenty to enjoy in the movement and sheer celebration of humanity. Take the frosty, sultry-looking Rosa, who nonchalantly keeps five hula hoops going in one act, then spins above the crowd using only a loop hooked around the back of her neck in another. Such antics are what NoFit State is all about: the company’s enjoyment of its work is infectious. One trapeze artist grins and shouts to passers-by that they should try it themselves.

We’re not all immortal……..
reviewer:
Tamsin Curry
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Hulme Park Manchester
June-30-04
Circus with heart is how NoFit State prefers to be known but as its name suggests this award-winning troupe also provides a different and vastly entertaining theatrical experience.

Currently on a nationwide tour with this new show directed with panache by Firenza Guidi, this unique and exciting multi-media experience is firmly rooted in circus skills. This promenade production is packed with an array of bewildering and breathtaking events happening around, above and within the audience.

Old fashioned shadow play exists in tandem with the most sophisticated multi-media techniques, angelic figures soar on high, spouting philosophical thoughts, while acrobats in swimming costumes and frilly hats pretend to swim down silken sheets. It is amusing, thought-provoking and totally mesmerising.

Providing the powerful background to this visual assault of the senses is a fantastic music score, performed by a first-rate band with some great choral singing masterminded by Peter Reynolds.

Excellent sound and lighting enhances the strong impact of the superb performance skills, while costume designer Sian Jenkins’ delightful array of retro costumes brings gasps, with two powerful images of brides in black and white spiralling down from above.

The trapeze and rope work is extraordinary and is performed with joy. The movement throughout coordinated by Jem Treays, is admirable and the crowd control, among the audience itself is also adroitly handled. In fact, it was difficult to get the crowd to leave this thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing experience.
reviewer:
Natalie Anglesey – The Stage
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Pontypridd
May-25-04
I have been visiting Ynyshangharad Park in Pontypridd for close on fifty years and had most experiences imaginable there, from the salubrious to the salacious. It’s always been a space for childhood delights, adolescent adventures and sheer and simple all-age serenity. No Fit State Circus’s latest production ImMortal managed to provide an arena for all these elements and give me one of my most indelible memories in Ponty Park so far.

Pontypridd is the first staging post of a summer tour of the UK and this extraordinary troupe of ridiculously talented performers, musicians and artisans have taken up residence in the park for the last month.. The centrepiece of their exotic tented village is their new spaceship of a big tent, which has landed on the site of Denzil Danter’s perennial funfair. The small fortune a family would spend on the bilious spills and thrills of Denzil’s rides would be a small price to pay for the visceral and visual rollercoaster that waits inside this fabulous structure.

Director, Firenza Guidi has created a world that is half Aladdin’s cave half purgatory where we are invited to explore the shadows, enter the light and bear witness to a cavalcade of acrobatic dramas, both intimate and extravagant, and a panoply of characters who manage to be both seductive and intimidating. This rogues’ gallery lurk and linger in caves and corners like lascivious lovers or hang suspended, grinning down at us like demonic angels.

Why they are there, at first, remains tantalisingly unclear but from the moment a globe of light is tossed from hand to hand and grabbed at like some elusive secret, we know they are there for us and we are there for them. We are not so silent witnesses in an exuberant parade of humanity. Like the circus itself, these protagonists are transient and ephemeral, waiting for their moment, their time to make their mark.

And make their mark they do, in a seamless sequence of aerobatic and gymnastic dramas, the characters reveal their loves and longings, their dreams and nightmares. A soundtrack of voices gives us a glimpse into their lives but it is the panoramic visual display that opens the window on their world. Two lovers entwined high above us on a single rope give a balletic and sensual feat of lovemaking on the most tenuous footholds imaginable.

A grid of rope and steel spirals up into the darkness where lost souls climb and clamber, then fall and swoop into a void they’re desperate to escape from. In a moment of grace and beauty and ineffable sadness the girl on the flying trapeze, clutching a letter, soars high above our upturned faces, her amplified laboured breathing belying her effortless athleticism, and then in a heart stopping leap of faith dives into the darkness, showering us with scraps of the letter, while she remains hanging in the air, a silent spinning silhouette.

The moments, like the characters, keep weaving in and out of us, above and below. Moments when we gasp at the exhilarating audacity of their skills, laugh at their slapstick, tumbling playfulness and moments when we simply applaud the sheer virtuosity, such as the hoola hoop girl, a picture of stillness in the eye of a storm of hoops as she transforms into herself into a human helicopter. All this while the band plays on, an exuberant and eclectic cocktail where Frank Zappa meets Miles Davis.

But just as this crazy dance seems destined to descend into disarray and despair, an order is created. Out of the cabins and craters, down from the girders and cables of what now seems to resemble the wrecked hull of some sunken ship, its motley crew begin to assemble in disorderly fashion in a solemn procession that spasmodically convulses and crumbles to the floor, only to reform and reunite with a renewed dignity and sense of purpose.

A purpose that draws them to a blinding light outside the tent and outside their temporary world, aware that that they have made a mark on us and left a record and are now ready to move on; a journey into the unknown and immortality. As they disappear we are left with our sense of mortality and the chance to make our own leap of faith and be remembered. Certainly No Fit State Circus can be now remembered alongside the likes of sporting greats, Barry John and Viv Richards who also graced Ponty Park with their coruscating skills.

reviewer:
Larry Allan
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Winchester
July-05-04
With any luck, ImMortal will live up to its name and go on forever.

The latest, unconventional show from NoFit State Circus has been wowing audiences all over the country with its unique, breathtaking acts.

Circus member Tim Adam says: “We really affect people. I’ve seen members of the audience moved to tears after seeing us.”

“Immortal involves people through music drama, video projections, and our own ‘wow factor’.”

But nothing could prepare me for what this “wow factor” was. Forget traditional circuses with rows of seats and animal trainers and think more along the lines of Cirque du Soleil.

Except ImMortal is wackier, more surreal and quite literally in your face. Clowns walk among the audience, acrobats climb down from above and the live band plays on stilts. This is no ordinary circus – its contemporary theatre at its height.

If you’ve ever wondered what the future of circus is, a visit to Immortal will provide the answer.
reviewer:
Daisy Belfield, Soton Echo
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Birmingham
July-14-04
This review first appeared in The Times, 14 July 2004


EVER wanted to run away and join the circus? ImMortal, which is currently touring Britain inside its own futuristic silver tent, may be the nearest that untrained audience members will ever get. In this ambitious promenade performance, the playful and chaotic action swirls and unfurls above, beside and around us until we almost feel a part of it.
Ditching traditional circus trappings of animals and clowns, this intoxicating, tumultuous production for all ages by the Cardiff-based NoFit State Circus climbs towards headier theatrical realms. Decked out in retro-style clothing, a teeming cast of twenty portrays a motley society. Characters include a schoolgirl and sailor, a semi-transvestite and an inebriate, a bride and a would-be suicide. Although there is no real narrative, these fictional beings seem to always be careening in and out of fleeting yet intense public encounters.



Each of the two acts commences with a poetic, memory-based voiceover that mystifies rather than illuminates. Better to surrender to the show’s deceptively shambolic, quicksilver atmosphere. Featuring multiple stages and flexible rigging, the space is continually being reconfigured through clever and subtle manipulations of mesh screens or white sheets which drop to reveal a new scene or setting. The effect is not a little disorientating — like being plunged into a living novel and occasionally losing the plot.

The live, blues-tinged rock score aside, what drives ImMortal is the cast’s individual skills and extraordinarily engaging ensemble energy.

Whether it’s a young dreamboat juggling his bowler hat, an ecstatic trapeze artist or a gloriously jaded and polyrhythmic hula hooper, they all seem to love what they’re doing. Guided by director Firenza Guidi, their behaviour is of the circus and our world, but elevated to levels of strangeness, excess or near-myth.

In truth, ImMortal may be a tad overstuffed. But better too much than too little. NoFit’s busy show builds in excitement. It’s also sprinkled with oddball humour (observe the bloke who balances on a dentist’s chair), sensuality (the couple whose intimate rope act is akin to watching clothed aerial sex) and charm (as in a group routine involving a tiny trampoline and a line of drying laundry). The overall effect is endearing, liberating and on a far more human scale than you’ll get from the likes of Cirque du Soleil.


ImMortal is at Birmingham International Festival (July 9-18), Stockton International Riverside Festival (July 23-Aug 1), Swansea Bay Festival (Aug 6-15) and Pembroke Dock Arts Festival (Aug 20-29).
Box office: 0870 126 1771



reviewer:
Donald Hutera
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Stockton on Tees
August-03-04
If like me, you’re left cold by traditional circus with its baggy trousers and unfunny slapstick, then it’s time to rejoice.

Designer circus with a twist has landed in a silver spaceship of a Big Top, right in the middle of Stockton-on-Tees.

Hurrah for Stockton Riverside Festival doing what it does best – bringing spectacular entertainment to shock, delight, inspire and even confuse.

All of which, this production of Immortal will do for you.

There are no seats in this Big Top. Stand and follow the performers – get up close and personal with MR and MS Trapeze and their talented family.

This is circus meets theatre and it will blow you away. It’s carefully choreographed chaos that whams your senses at every turn and is hugely entertaining.

To your right and someone’s coming at you with a Silver Cross pram, to the left spewing fire!

Behind there’s a magnificent band blasting jazzy salsa sounds, while 50ft above you a bride spins by the tiniest strap around her neck. It’s breathtaking stuff from a hugely talented bunch of performers which also uses video, sound and lighting technology to great effect.

Awesome is such an overused word these days but it’s well and truly deserved to describe the breathtaking skills of the acrobats. Teesiders, you-re lucky to have this performance in your midst.

reviewer:
Kathryn Armstrong , Evening gazette, Teeside
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Swansea recreation Ground
August-06-04
Theatre at its best can fire our emotions and help us to attain a richer understanding of life and of how we fit in to the general scheme of things. This is what “No Fit State Circus” achieves.

This show is a combination of physical skill and intellect. Being a part of the promenade audience is like being drawn in to a strange surrealist world where recognisable images weave their magic around you and take you with them on journeys of vivid imagination.

You soon realise that this is no ordinary circus. Yes, there are circus acts (no animals) tumblers, acrobats, jugglers and skilful ladies on the flying trapeze, and much more, but here we are looking at a life cycle acted out before us.

We are constantly being reminded of the beauty and the power of the human frame and the strength of the human spirit. The ropes and swings we see all around us are not simply the apparatus of the circus performer but they are the obstacles we all face in life.

Each act becomes a drama and with the help of evocative music and lighting effects we are part of that drama. These are beautiful moving pictures, with a vivid symbolism that touches the core of our very existence.

A man and a woman scale a rope. They reach a height and through their mutual strength and skill they weave together in a moment of sheer tenderness. No words, and yet all the romantic words ever written could not have expressed man’s capacity for love more than this.

A group of people are held in a giant net, or is it a web? They are trapped and have to struggle to escape. If this were a painting each of us could put our own interpretations on to it, and the same with this. We each bring our own experiences to this show and we find ourselves looking into mirrors because what we see is a true reflection of our own life’s experiences.

A woman dressed in an elaborate black mourning dress spins above our heads and her blank expression reminds us all of the pain and loss that bereavement brings to us all.

In a moment wee are surrounded by grieving characters and as they touch and move amongst us we too are carried along on a strong wave of emotion.
We are allowed to contemplate our own destinies for a while and then we see an image of hope, an embryo of life to come. The circus of life has no end.

This is rich, powerful stuff and overwhelming in its diversity of ideas. It makes you laugh, it makes you think and it has the rare quality of moving you to tears., which is a tribute to a well constructed piece of theatre.

Being part of a promenade audience was interesting although at times frustrating with my view obstructed on occasion by tall, forceful characters who liked to stand in front of everyone else. I particulary felt sorry for those in wheel chairs. However, obstructions don’t last for long as the audience is skilfully moved around as the focus changes to various areas of interest.

The show runs at Swansea’s recreation ground on the Mumbles Road until the 15th August. It then transfers to Pembroke Dock on the 20th to the 30th August.
reviewer:
Tony Layton
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Swansea Recreation Ground
August-08-04
Cardiff-based company NoFit State Circus are seeking to attract a whole new generation to the joys of the Big Top with this ambitious new production directed by Firenza Guidi. From the moment one enters the bizarre twilight world inhabited by a miscellany of weird and wonderful characters, it becomes evident that this is no ordinary circus.

All the hallmarks of the genre are indeed here, but they are presented within a framework which challenges one's expectations. Anyone coming to a performance such as this for the first time will undoubtedly find it both original and breathtaking, but those who have experienced physical theatre as performed by the likes of Volcano or Kaos - or indeed the work of contemporary dance outfits such as The Cholmondleys and The Featherstonehaughs - might find themselves experiencing a distinct feeling of deja vu as the evening unfolds.

The difference, of course, is that NoFit State's performers use the skills, traditions and disciplines of the circus as a medium in which to present a stream-of-consciousness exploration of the human condition, underpinned with a curious(and at times impenetrable) narrative about life, death, despair, innocence and joy.

The concept is admirable, the style is impeccable and the athleticism, ability and physical presence of the performers is beyond question.But there are elements of the production which need to be addressed.

This is a company which prides itself upon its inclusivity and its determinedly New Age, post-Millennial approach - as evinced by the fact that the performance I attended had attracted the kind of liberal mums in ethnic prints who carry small babies strapped to their chests and young couples in black T-shirts who seemed incapable of standing next to each other without fondling each other's buttocks.

The big problem is that the promenade-style performance - in which the audience is required to follow the performers around as the show progresses - rapidly becomes wearisome and tiring, and anyone who might be a bit dodgy on their pins might find it difficult to move around in the semi-darkness.

As one who foolishly turned up for the performance in a pair of Cuban heeled boots, I would strongly recommend a good strong pair of comfy shoes.

I would also challenge whether the tone and content of the show is entirely suitable for very young children. The very notion of demonic nannies and meat cleaver-wielding men running in and around the audience at every opportunity is disturbing enough for adults, let alone small kids.

This is undoubtedly a show which will appeal to the adventurous and the young at heart - Goths and students would love it! - but the confrontational and anarchic style is bound to alienate those accustomed to more traditional forms of entertainment.
reviewer:
Graham Williams
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Pembroke Dock
August-24-04
The enormous silver tent is divided into inner performance space and a rim to one side with a bar. I arrived early with a friend and her ten-year-old son and we watched the slow drift of people coming in. A general buzz of excitement. Children and some adults peered through the mesh trying to see what was happening inside. It started with a man standing on a counter surreptitiously cradling a pair of high heels or peeling an apple, a woman typing on an old fashioned typewriter, another man is having a bath high up near the roof, blowing bubbles, a woman sitting on a high platform methodically pulling petals from a daisy: 'he loves me, he loves me not.'

Before we even entered into the circus space conventions of normality, even those associated with the circus, were suspended: people in strange costumes doing strange things were scattered amongst and above the crowd in every direction. A man wandered through the crowd playing an accordion and muttering. Children leapt to catch small packages lowered from on high on a fishing line; they contained tea bags and the message, 'have a drink on me.'

The circus may once have been the allowed place of carnival, a dangerous, exciting erotic space but it has long been cleaned up and sanitised, turned into tame fare with bored beasts and slapstick clowns, a clean ring, comfortable chairs and an authoritarian ringmaster keeping all at a distance, under control. But NoFit State Circus is the real thing; vivid, intense, dangerous. They have no mediating figure of authority. The performers moved through and around us: we stood next to them as they rose on the ropes, we can see the way that one of the women, twelve feet above us, grips the rope with her toes, we could see the flex and shift of muscles as the men hauled (seemingly effortlessly) on the ropes and, as one of the women swung wildly up into the roof, we heard her laboured breathing through a mike. Then, out of this seeming chaos, a flight of black-coated figures floated up on ropes like demonic angels. The figures coiled and twisted on ropes as if air was water and they were swimming in it. One bright-eyed little girl next to me gazed up at a tumbling woman and breathed 'Oh, she's brave;' equally awestruck, her friend whispered back: 'I wouldn't do that'- but she sounded as if she would have liked to.

So many extraordinary images: a bride shooting up into the air and progressively unravelling the hoops of her twenty-foot skirt while around that white expanse bizarrely-clad figures waltzed to the band; or, more humorously, a man somersaulting above our heads in a kilt, repeatedly tucking his skirts up with pantomime embarrassment. But the performance rested on the way that those moments were paced and integrated into a seamless whole: the individual act balanced against ensemble work, spiralling figures on high followed by a quieter moment of perfect control as (for example) three purple-lit women stood on a small stage, casually drinking glasses of water while spinning fluorescent hula hoops. All the elements were held together by a varied musical backdrop supplied by the gypsy/blues influenced band that played on a side stage throughout.

I do not mention any of the many performers by name because this was very much an ensemble piece that gained its overall impact through the interrelation of its various elements and on a building sense of infectious delight evoked by the total engagement of each individual. Its brilliant director, Firenza Guidi, had developed a loose narrative that held the performance together but although this was in part explained in the programme, I thought it more necessary for the players than for the audience. I think that it was essential for the players to have a sense of how the varied elements could be integrated into a whole but for us they appeared with the vivid sense of an inexplicable but deeply meaningful dream. We heard certain names again and again, we recognised the figures, we saw love, joy, anger, sexual delight; all of which drew us emotionally to the kaleidoscopic performance before us. This emotional bond was what mattered not the narrative in its detail. What was left was a series of elation and beauty at the end.

My friend?s son was very quiet as we left for Swansea. What do you think? I asked him. I envy those children, he sighed.

reviewer:
JenI Willams
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Swansea
August-25-04
Join the circus for unique show.

There should be a bin outside the futuristic Big Top currently dominating Pembroke Dock’s skyline, labelled ‘Leave Your Preconceptions Here!” for inside is circus as you have never seen it before. Despite the high-tech appearance of the tent, NoFit State Circus offers up a strangely nostalgic show – interweaving circus skills with dance, drama and music.

It is labelled a promenade performance – i.e. the performers strut their stuff among the members of the audience who wander around the interior of the Big Top following the action.

Audience members were heard to comment on how different this show is to anyone’s idea of conventional circus: “It’s a bit unique,” said one. You might argue with the semantics –but the sentiment is spot on. ImMortal is a loosely connected selection of comment on the human condition, played out using every type of performance art available. It has echoes of a Dylan Thomas play for voices, and, with the action coming at you from every direction, is also reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. It has a fin de siecle feel about it, filled with a turn-of-the-century decadence populated with Edwardian music hall characters like the moustached strong man and the corseted trapeze artist.

There is no arguing with the level of skill and commitment on display; all are consummate performers in a wide range of disciplines.

The evening is taken over in a whirl of light, colour and noise………… the audience members don’t merely observe, but are an integral per of this interactive show.

But don’t worry that doesn’t mean you will be called upon to walk a high wire; instead you will provide the means for the performers to weave their story around you.

If your idea of circus is tawdry glitz and poodles with ruffs on - you won’t find it at NoFit State. What you will find is passion and powerful performances in this innovative contemporary circus that should ensure a future for this traditional artform into another millennium. NoFit State Circus will continue with evening performances at 7.30pm until August 30th, with 3pm matinees at weekends. Contact the box office on 0870 126 1771. for tickets.
reviewer:
Fiona PPhillips
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Swansea
August-25-04
Join the circus for unique show.

There should be a bin outside the futuristic Big Top currently dominating Pembroke Dock’s skyline, labelled ‘Leave Your Preconceptions Here!” for inside is circus as you have never seen it before. Despite the high-tech appearance of the tent, NoFit State Circus offers up a strangely nostalgic show – interweaving circus skills with dance, drama and music.

It is labelled a promenade performance – i.e. the performers strut their stuff among the members of the audience who wander around the interior of the Big Top following the action.

Audience members were heard to comment on how different this show is to anyone’s idea of conventional circus: “It’s a bit unique,” said one. You might argue with the semantics –but the sentiment is spot on. ImMortal is a loosely connected selection of comment on the human condition, played out using every type of performance art available. It has echoes of a Dylan Thomas play for voices, and, with the action coming at you from every direction, is also reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge. It has a fin de siecle feel about it, filled with a turn-of-the-century decadence populated with Edwardian music hall characters like the moustached strong man and the corseted trapeze artist.

There is no arguing with the level of skill and commitment on display; all are consummate performers in a wide range of disciplines.

The evening is taken over in a whirl of light, colour and noise………… the audience members don’t merely observe, but are an integral per of this interactive show.

But don’t worry that doesn’t mean you will be called upon to walk a high wire; instead you will provide the means for the performers to weave their story around you.

If your idea of circus is tawdry glitz and poodles with ruffs on - you won’t find it at NoFit State. What you will find is passion and powerful performances in this innovative contemporary circus that should ensure a future for this traditional artform into another millennium. NoFit State Circus will continue with evening performances at 7.30pm until August 30th, with 3pm matinees at weekends. Contact the box office on 0870 126 1771. for tickets.
reviewer:
Fiona PPhill
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Swansea
September-01-04
"ImMortal ...coming out alive: Daring, sexy and wildly entertaining" That all sounded good to me! I began to question that decision ever so slightly when heading into the big top-strobe lighting, chiffon dressed scaffolding and dentists chair on the bar. But cancel those initial reactions, after spending most of the night with my mouth open saying 'wow', running off to join the circus seemed a decidedly tempting prospect.
 
Don't expect a typical circus show. instead, picture 'quirkily' dressed folk acting out stories and sketches, not just in front of the audience but above around and sometimes through. To watch everything was impossible, with something going on in every corner of the tent, on the floor and in the air. The entire evening was set to a live jazz band and half a dozen or more DJ's.
 
A stunning display of traditional circus acrobatics-trapeze stunts and people spinning from the ceiling on silk ribbons, interspersed with some Covent garden style street theatre, of the juggling and fire eating while riding a unicycle type. Then came part two.... NoFit State shreds the circus rulebook to pieces "Daring, sexy and wildly entertaining?" I'd say so.
reviewer:
Jay Roberts Red Handed magazine
An impoverished third incarnation
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Barry
May-26-07
This review first appeared in the Western Mail

Well, we’ve had ImMortal. We’ve had ImMortal2. Now it’s – well, it’s back to ImMortal again.

Cardiff’s NoFit State Circus obviously realise they’re on to a winner with this ImMortal branding and, indeed, if you haven’t seen previous versions of this remarkable show then you’re probably going to be knocked out by this mix of circus skills, funky music, performance art, light-show and hip ambience.

But what you won’t get this time around is the magic ingredient that made the last show a hit at Edinburgh and an international success. Just what it is, is difficult to say but crucially it gets down to the fact that it had some kind of narrative, albeit a great sprawling and generally incomprehensive narrative, and a distinctively European theatricality.

In other words, it was concept circus. A spectacular with a story and it didn’t really matter too much if you couldn’t follow the story (as I couldn’t, I admit) although it must have been more rewarding if you did. The mind behind the concept was Firenza Guidi, the Cardiff-based Italian theatremaker who runs the international ELAN theatre company,

She mixed straightforward circus acts with a the philosophical allegory of new arrivals at a strange clearing-house for souls, a slaughterhouse, a place where human beings have a last chance to live life to the full. In other words this crazy circus is where people have their final opportunity to taste happiness before they achieve immortality, to recognise the fragments of life that constitute happiness.

That was then and this is now, however, and I could find little in this year’s staging to
suggest any real content apart from the ending – which, without any lead-up to it, just looks pretty pointless, a kind of reference to Kubrick’s Space Oddyssey.

Whether Ms Guidi had much to do with this production I don’t know as there were, at the show’s premiere in The Silver Spaceship in Barry, no programmes. NoFit State Circus describe it as rebuilt, reworked and recast but they don’t mention deleting the storyline. Or (at least when I saw it) the whacky installations. Or the projected text.

What remains is a highly entertaining circus with the added frisson of it being a promenade performance – the audience is welcomed into the big top and then encouraged to wander round (safety permitting) and see the performers close-up.

This has the curious effect of de-eroticising the otherwise quite sexy nature of this kind of aerial work (unless, of course, thick body-stockings and harnesses do it for you) and, truth be told, making some of the acts seem rather ordinary. There was really nothing very new in the routines, despite a couple of impressive turns – which brings us back to the extra value that ImMortal2 offered, that theatricality and quirky collection of visual imagery, that just isn’t here.

The company do rush around a platform making lots of noise on the metal grid and I suspect that there were some words spoken that didn’t make it into the PA or just got lost in the amplification, but for me at least this was an impoverished version of a fascinating and potentially very sensually and cerebrally rich project.
reviewer:
David Adams
A death defying aesthetic experience
ImMortal
[print]Print this review  now
venue
Roald Dahl Plass (Presented by Wales Millennium Centre)
September-13-07
It was a very fortunate meeting between the intense, sometimes esoteric, generous spirited theatre artist Firenza Guidi and NFSC founder Ali Williams. This was a few years ago and this, now refined production, is able to embrace a wide range of circus followers of all ages, though it might be a little scary for the very young. Anyone wanting a bit more from their circus experience than acrobats, clowns and brassy music, they do have all this and it’s all very fine stuff, will find this show a very satisfying and at times an aesthetic experience.

In her programme note Guidi asks us to “Imagine waking up one morning to find your feet are moving by themselves. You have to go. It is beyond your control. The quest has started. A search for him or her beyond the shores of the living. You cross the ocean and the 7 seas. You cross the river Chuber, right through the borders of the earth to the final barrier of the human world”...

The actual experience may not go quite as deep as this but there is certainly, despite being offered a programme to buy and being given information as to where the bar is situated, an air of dusty mystery as one enters the silver domed marquee and starts to stroll around the perimeter of the curtained-off circus ring. Muscular men in black leather skirts and tight vests wander around demonstrating a sort of ‘mild’ menace. A young blond lady sings plaintively into a microphone and invites you join and sing with her. A dark haired lady in a bright scarlet circus coat attends diligently to her carving and filing of old coins into remarkable pendants. The delicacy of her work is much in contrast to the way she throws herself around the ropes and complex equipment as the show progresses.

The opening sequence is very dramatic with the whole cast, clad in black performing a mad dance around a grating steel grid just above our heads. Soon trapeze artists are hanging forty feet above us and long swirls of black silk flow from them onto the floor beneath.

The music is both strident and exotic, interspersed with speech, that though not clear enough to understand every word, adds to our initial unease as we cross the river. This is soon replaced by fantastic traditional circus activity of the highest level. A performer on a rope twirls through it down from the roof of the tent, determined it seems to hit the floor but stops within inches. This is not the only fantastic achievement that truly attracts the description - death defying. The female-half of the trapeze double act not only has us gasping frequently but also demonstrates that her limbs can bend and stretch into places limbs really aren’t meant to go. A very short clown beings performing in a dark surreal manner, desperately searching for a missing baby to put into a miniature black pram. We are never far away from the poetry and from an experience that fills us with uncertainty with wonder and with joy. The lights get brighter and our clown carries on circling on the grid around us doing the most extraordinary things with an old folding chair.

There is some balletic aerial hoop work, a rope mesh full of menacing, cavorting ‘spiders’. An extraordinary strong man who not only balances his whole body on one hand but describes a circle as he does so. Amazing things happen with hoola hoops, the swirling black drapes become white, a bride hangs high in the air with her train scraping the floor. The lady on the aerial hoop looks wistful, and longing, the ‘black’ men and women circle fire around their bodies as the serious fun comes to a fulfilling and entertaining end.

There’s something quite unique about circus folk, their relaxed, friendly manner belies the precision and dedication to their demanding techniques, this is true ensemble theatre, they have the lives of their colleagues in their hands.

It is now some five years since ImMortal was first put together, Guidi’s influence has most definitely added a new and fascinating direction to the work of the Cardiff based No Fit State Circus, whether it’s possible to reach perfection in this marriage, no one can tell but hopefully the search will continue.
reviewer:
Michael Kelligan

If you know of any other existing review, or if you have any more information on ImMortal, (perhaps you were in the production or were the author or director) then please use the form below to send us the details
Add your comments or amendments to our information on ImMortal
your name
e-mail address
What colour is this block?

orange


this helps us fight spam messages . You have to fill in the box for your message to be sent!
 

Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2006 keith morris / red snapper web designs / keith@artx.co.uk