Close Up

You'd usually associate interacting with the audience with stand ups, pantomime and magicians specialising in card tricks. But with contemporary circus artists? Not so much. But then Circa, an award-winning Aussie circus company, is a boundary-pushing law unto itself. In the outfit's latest show not only do they involve the audience, the four acrobats (two male and two female), take things one step further by sharing personal information and insights with them.

'Breathtaking' and 'mesmerising' are over-used adjectives but in Circa's case they're spot on.

The foursome perform to a soundtrack of jazz and dance music in front of a huge white screen which periodically shows close up, slow motion footage of them plying their awe-inducing trade. This device means the physical impact of what they're doing is writ large. You have no choice but to witness the way in which their flesh ripples, and muscles contract and relax, as they dive, twirl and swoop through the air.

As well as being ethereal and beautiful in its own right, the recordings, and sound effects that accompany them, remind you of what's actually happening to the acrobats' bodies as they gleefully throw themselves around and play human Jenga. This was fascinating and I would have welcomed more of it.

Each member of the group has a particular skill that they showcase and they're all astonishing, but the aerial rope sequence is particularly stunning. The acrobat who performs this succession of gymnastic feats is masterly and incredibly strong, and there are several heart-in-mouth moments where sharp intakes of breath are audible.

Despite the group's obvious expertise in making their bodies do things that would leave mere mortals requiring medical assistance, it's great that there's nothing po-faced about this multimedia extravaganza. None of the artists take themselves too seriously, and there's a lot of smiling and good-natured humour.

'Breathtaking' and 'mesmerising' are over-used adjectives but in Circa's case they're spot on. In this crowd-pleasing production they show us exactly what circus art looks like in the twenty first century.

Reviews by Dawn Kofie

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The Blurb

How close do you want to be? Four extraordinary circus artists. Acrobatic mastery at its most extreme. Circa, the company behind five-star productions Beyond and multi award-winning Wunderkammer, challenge everything you’ve thought about circus as they wrench back the curtain and bring you the glorious, chaotic abstraction Close Up. See. Hear. Feel. Everything. Nothing's off-limits in their most intimate show. Interactive video and powerful music set the scene for moments of raw beauty, unbearable tension and savage physical intensity. Discover why ‘watching Circa has become my new favourite Fringe pastime’ ***** (Scotsman). Close Up? You’ve never been closer.