All Genius All Idiot

All Genius All Idiot is a quirky and outrageous piece that explores the animalistic side of human nature using contemporary circus, performance art and live music. This show is brought to us by Svalbard a company made up of four acrobats from Spain, England, Germany and Sweden who all met at the world’s leading circus school DOCH in Sweden. It is definitely a wacky show. On entering the space, we are greeted by Ben Smith perched on a Chinese pole playing a mandolin, dressed in a fur coat, antlers and fishnet tights. Santiago Ruiz is scurrying about with a severed leg. One performer is ‘hanging out’ in the scaffolding, while the other is hidden behind a trolley. The set has a hippy compound or cult community feel to it with a tent, shopping trolley and general scrapyard junk – a perfect setting for anarchy.

Maybe more wacky than wonderful

Each performer is a musician and acrobat, taking turns to sing, rap or play an instrument while also delivering skilful acrobatics. This show is comprised of circus tricks, performance art, cross dressing, burlesque and a live concert. At times, this mash up works wonderfully but other times some of the transitions don’t work as well. An example being when the performers make the shift from serious circus to a pumping concert where we are expected to clap along. One cast member had to instruct the audience to join in which made it feel a bit unnatural. That being said, there is no doubt in Svalbard’s sheer skill and talent as performers. There are many nail biting moments where one performer is balancing on Ben Smith’s head while he is still wearing his antlers. Each performer brings their own unique style of movement and, yet again, I find myself feeling very ordinary in the presence of such superior strength and skill.

This show enters into an era of new-age circus that explores themes of anarchy, gender subversion and human nature. As the title suggests we witness moments of genius and idiocy throughout the performance. To me, this piece felt a little pretentious and was maybe more wacky than wonderful. But if you are a fan of contemporary circus, All Genius All Idiot is definitely worth a watch.

Reviews by Lynn Rusk

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The Blurb

Quirky and outrageous, All Genius All Idiot revels in the absurdities of life, using extreme circus artistry to highlight human behaviour at its most animalistic. Svalbard bends the edges of contemporary circus and blends it with theatre, physical comedy and live music to create a truly original piece that you will remember for its surreal quality as well as its awe-inspiring skills. It features Chinese pole, aerial rope, hand balance and acrobatics, driven by a hauntingly beautiful original soundtrack. 'A hedonistic celebration of the Bacchanalian spirit' (