Runs until 22nd January 2017

The circus has – courtesy of American Horror Story – recently become synonymous with scary clowns and freak shows. Thankfully there was not a clown in sight at NoFit State Circus’ Bianco, although this certainly doesn’t mean there was an absence of humour. This highly immersive show found the perfect balance between slapstick humour and haunting performances, creating an experience which is equal parts funny and moving. With everything from trapeze to tightrope, the show took every expectation I had and utterly smashed them.

“[Bianco] repeatedly takes your breath away, and leaves you wishing you could run away to join the circus’

Upon entering the big top, we were greeted with a large curtained cube, a live band, and a much welcome bar. As more people filled the tent it became clear that none of us really knew what to expect, and indeed none of us could have predicted what we saw. The band began to play and still there was no sign of performers; that is, until they came hurtling through the crowd on mini tricycles. When the chiffon curtains finally dropped we were presented with the stage – or rather a collection of scaffolding. The stage came to life and was moved around the tent, with stewards herding us all like sheep to avoid the towering rigging. You are definitely kept on your toes during Bianco, and quite literally need to be careful of tripping over the performers.

Each member of the company has their own unique talent, and each gets the chance to display just how skilled they are. Despite their individual acts, the performers frequently came together for ensemble pieces, and whether they are mock fighting or diving on a trampoline, it’s clear that every cast member genuinely enjoyed their work. In every act the performers took their skills to a level I have never seen before; tightrope walking became tightrope gymnastics, contortionism became a new way to get dressed, and the trapeze became a beautiful light display. The performance frequently drew audible shock from the audience, allowing us all to become awe-struck children once again. However this show frequently reminds you that you are in fact an adult, and often leaves you wondering ‘where did all their clothes go?’ Everyone of course enjoyed the stripping (and a particular scene involving swimming costumes and life rings) but there are also numerous acts so graceful that they take your breath away. There were was indeed one performance involving silk ropes which caused many audience members to liken the performer to Tarzan. The musicians set the mood of each scene perfectly, playing everything from rock to classical with ease, and adding an extra dimension to each of the performances.

The cast of Bianco are without doubt the most talented athletes I have seen perform, and the music and costumes are perfectly designed to accentuate their incredible talent. This is a show that repeatedly takes your breath away, and leaves you wishing you could run away to join the circus.

Emily Baxter-Derrington


Image: Southbank Centre

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