Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

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NoFit State Circus , 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.

Reviewed by: Graham Williams

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