Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Blokes on ropes is always a hit......


No Fit State Circus , Cooper's Field Cardiff , August 6, 2002
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."

Reviewed by: Zoe Hewett

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