Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Bianco Bellissimo

Bianco

NoFit State Circus , Bluestone, Narberth , June-30-13
Bianco  by NoFit State Circus When Neon Neon played London this June critics had to ponder whether the genre-straddling production was a rock gig with performance added, or a piece of theatre that came with a band. No such ambiguity with NoFit; it is circus, but the fit between the four-strong band and the sixteen aerial artists and jugglers is seamless. The liveness of the music is indispensable, with all the difference in the world to a recorded soundtrack. The audience can move around the music, raise the volume by standing under a speaker, even switch attention from high wire to watch the musicians. A great double bass drives the music. One of the front-men, in white shirt and knee-length white coat, moves from keyboard, to guitar to long runs of lyrical trumpet.

The choice of location for the westernmost part of the “Bianco” tour- the Roundhouse to Edinburgh via the Brighton Festival and Wales- is a good one. A field on the Bluestone site is host to the company’s silver-grey, snub-topped tent. To the north the entire line of the Preselis is visible. To the south Oakwood’s industrialised leisure architecture pokes incongruously through the trees of the Pembrokeshire countryside. There is metal a-plenty too inside the tent; “Bianco” is built around four fifteen-foot high gantries that separate, line up or form a circle.

The last time NoFit performed in a tent in West Wales, some years ago in Aberystwyth, the colour motif was a goth dark. “Bianco” is suffused with white. A performer rises into the air and a dress in pleated white unrolls for twenty feet beneath her. One performer comes in white-striped harlequin pants, another in a long shirt, woolly tights and white head-cap, suggestive of a scholar from the Renaissance.

The directorial challenge is to create a shape and rhythm to encapsulate the physical performances. Director Firenza Guidi’s second act opens with a twelve-strong madcap version of a thirties bathing party, rubber rings, swimming caps and trampoline bouncing. A French domestic mutters eccentrically to herself and performs handstands on her coffee pot. Elements of fire and water appear. An old tin bath is beaten with vigour with a couple of towels. The first half closes with a line of flaming torches.

Sequences of high energy alternate with moments of lyricism. Performers swing manically on three arc lights. A juggler sits in a white chair, and his eight balls seem to simply dance around him. Five women ascend in cages swirling with strands of silver beads. As for her ending Firenza Guidi creates an image of such spectral beauty and delight, that no reviewer should reveal it.

It is a company of size that is camped out on Bluestone’s fields, twenty performers and at least as many again on the ground. The spirit of verve extends to the ticket-collectors, in their hats with a jaunty feather and their leather skirts- and that is just the men. On a coolish Sunday afternoon “Bianco” must hit every possible access criterion; the mobile audience runs from hippies to pensioners, ages three to seventy-three. The band sings a long number entitled “Who’s going to save my soul?” No need. “Bianco” is stuffed full of it.

“Bianco” continues in Pembrokeshire until 6th July and plays Bangor 12th July.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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