Devoid of gimmicks – and without a sequin in sight – Australian-based Circa’s latest Edinburgh offering is a bold, stripped back and uncompromising display of sheer human strength and discipline.
Australian contemporary circus favourites Circa simultaneously celebrate the human form, and throw it into question, in their latest Underbelly Circus Hub offering: Humans. A muscular company of ten acrobats transcend – seemingly all possible – physical barriers throughout the 60-minute duration, whilst also managing to elicit humour and poignancy (often with the smallest movement or gesture).
The space is boldly bare; props and set pieces are all but nonexistent. This is a show singularly interested in just what the body can be – and indeed is (after a vast amount of years training, anyway). And boy, are the bodies enough to elicit awe.
As impressive as the feats themselves is the sheer speed one lift, or catch, or throw transitions into the next. The show is amongst the most intricately (and complexly) choreographed extended sequences I’ve ever witnessed, it’s as much as high-intensity dance piece as a circus display. Frequent sections are choreographed to look like utter chaos, but they are of course the binary opposite. Performers are hurled from person to person with machine-like precision – and with what often looks like genuine aggression and violence.
There’s occasionally a moment when this cold and almost ‘inhuman’ treatment of each other is broken; I’m thinking of one aerial scene in particular when two performers handle each others bodies with care and delicacy. As a whole though, there is something slightly distant about Humans – perhaps it is the vast space, and not a significant amount of time spent where performers acknowledge presence of the audience. That likely isn’t the intention here – this really all is about the sheer human strength and skill on offer, but you sometimes just don’t feel quite as connected to the performers as in Closer or Il Ritorno, for example.
Overall though, this is an unmissable spectacle for anyone who wants to see just what the human body – and indeed mind (it must be scary being hurled 20 feet up in the air) – is capable of. Circa’s Humans is a sophisticated hour of contemporary circus that leaves everyone gasping, but transfixed.