Bianco is an immersive promenade experience that takes place above, behind and all around the audience (Picture: David Levene)
By Keith Watson
Monday 15 Apr 2013
Circus review: When did new circus get old? That question hovered in my head somewhere in the middle, somewhat elevated, of Bianco, the latest daring spectacle from Cardiff’s NoFit State circus, which happily brands itself as a contemporary circus pioneer.
Bianco, inspired by José Saramago’s novel The Elephant’s Journey, is ramshackle and fun, a mostly aerial production that flies by the seat of its pants from trapeze to trampoline by way of ropes and balance wires. It soars into the spectacular dome of the Roundhouse.
And while the group routines tend to clobber you over the head with how much fun everyone is having bouncing about – look at me! I’m wacky! – there’s rare beauty in the quiet moments: a trapeze pair performing a heart-catching duet is just one of the highlights.
None of this, though, is what you’d call pioneering. The idea of a loose narrative – and they don’t come any looser than ‘a journey’ – strung around a succession of acts is what ‘new’ circus has been doing for two decades and more.
Bianco does it well, the effervescent cast shunting around the scaffolding set (it’s a promenade piece, so be light on your feet) with muscular gusto. But somehow it feels less than the sum of its acts.
It’s all driven along by an excellent live band, whose singer does a mean Johnny Cash impression, and it’s a warm-hearted, intermittently charming affair. But it doesn’t reinvent the hula hoop.
Until Apr 27, Roundhouse. www.roundhouse.org.uk