Throwback, by Silver Lining (supported by Jacksons Lane and the National Centre For Circus Arts), is an incredibly fun show. Described as a ‘love note to nostalgia,’ it takes its audience on a trip down memory lane, full of classic songs from various decades.
The audience arrives to find bits of paper placed on the seats containing a question (e.g. what song reminds you of a good night out?) and instructions to write the answer and fold it into a paper airplane to throw at the stage when the show starts. The answers seem to start a musical trip down memory lane, with cast members singing many different songs at once, until it turns into a more organised mash-up that includes break dancing and some choreographed moves to the Spice Girls, the Macarena, and other classic tunes, before settling on Time of My Life.
Throwback is a lot more personal than your average circus show. After the opening act, the performers stand in a line, stepping forwards to share details about themselves in one-word statements – their ages, the things they feel nostalgic about. Between acts, there is more in-depth sharing of personal memories, which add context to some of the acts that follow. It’s not just happy memories that are revisited. Their personal recollections often take on a more melancholy air, from the sacrifices their mother made for them to failed relationships of the past. The acts themselves are also varied in mood, from the incredibly upbeat hula hoop act to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now to the frustrated Chinese pole act, which has the performer launching himself repeatedly at the pole with no success until his friends step in to help.
Music forms an integral part of the show, and some of the cast members are talented singers as well as circus performers. Notably, one performer sings very beautifully, all the while doing handstands.
There were some missed tricks and mistakes, and the skill level is impressive but not the highest around. Nonetheless, Throwback is excellent theatre; the energy remains high throughout, and the performers appear to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience is.