It takes a lot to make a contemporary circus audience gasp. That’s not to say the tricks are not impressive or that audiences do not show their appreciation in other ways; merely that, for whatever reason, circus in a theatre setting seems to feel safer or perhaps more passive than the Big Top. Recirquel Company buck this trend with their new show My Land, a production that elicits audible gasps and shrieks of delight from the captivated audience.
Rather than being hampered by the more traditional staging in Assembly Roxy, the company make full use of their proscenium setting, employing clever lighting techniques and impressive stagecraft. The stage is covered in grains of sand and is lit so that as the performers enter the space, their ghostly forms emerge from the shadows. Light and reflection are used in this way throughout the performance to great effect. Beneath the grains of sand, the stage is made of light panels so that as the performers dig and move against the surface, beams of light are revealed. The show is full of beautiful surprises like this.
In the middle of a hand balancing routine, a bendable mirror emerges on to the stage, rippling and warping as it reflects the body of the performer. The reflected image has an otherworldly quality, evoking a flickering projection or a mirage. It’s a beautiful, moving moment and a reminder of the simple power of a talented acrobat and a clever bit of staging.
The technical skill on show from all 7 acrobats in My Land is world-class. Contortion, hand to hand acrobatics, a terrifyingly good walking ladder piece and a brilliant, primal juggling battle are just some of the acts on show here. Set to a beautiful score, the pieces have a natural rhythm that flow well together and the imagery of the acrobats rising from the earth and finding their way is hugely poignant.
My Land is a beautiful piece of contemporary circus theatre that is both visually stunning and packed with flawless acrobatic feats. It’s a visceral, impressive production that shows you don’t need the scale of a Big Top in order to pack a circus punch.