Fresh from the success of their 2017 hit Paris de Nuit and last year’s debut performance of My Land, Recircquel Company Budapest bring both shows back to the Fringe for another airing. The latter is a stunning display of acrobatics, dance and circus tricks that tests the limits of the human body, before pushing them one physics-defying ratchet further up the ladder.
The audience enter onto an eerily-lit stage, which is empty other than a shallow pit that appears to be filled with sand. After a sultry saunter across it by the sole female performer, her six male counterparts are flung onto it with violent force. It’s a somewhat slow start for a show that will only become more impressive with each passing stunt that showcases the full range of abilities of these Ukrainian-born, Hungarian-based acrobats.
Far removed from a traditional circus setting, the stripped-back stage uses only the sandpit and the underfloor lighting its obscures, as well as a flimsy mirrored sheet, a single-section ladder and a bag of white balls as its props. Even so, there’s a wide repertoire of set pieces on display; gymnastics, juggling, contortionism and innovative dance routines are all given their time in the limelight, each of which has been carefully choreographed and practiced to perfection to shock and stun those watching.
Indeed, the rare mistakes in the juggling act represent the only occasion on which the performers drop their deity-like status and return to the realm of mere mortals. And herein lies the piece’s greatest (and perhaps only) flaw; the abstract nature of the performance and the absence of any coherent narrative prevents the creation of a human connection with those on stage. Despite the grandiose statements about “tradition, freedom and love” mentioned in the troupe’s promotional material and the promise in the show’s name, there’s no sense of an overarching theme or identity.
It might seem churlish to complain about such a shortcoming when the technical accomplishment of the acrobatics is so incredible, but it’s a minor gripe that does leave room for improvement. Nonetheless, it’s still an outstanding show that commands respect, wonder and incredulity all at once. Visiting “Their Land” – even for only an hour – will leave you wide-eyed in disbelief as you emerge altered and awestruck back into your own.