Image – Selfie With Eggs

Towards the beginning of Image - Selfie with Eggs, gymnast Natalie Reckert describes herself as a 'handstand machine' and calmly guides us through the component 'stability points' of her effortlessly inverted body as if it were, indeed, a piece of machinery. The analogy is salient: there is something in the astounding physical discipline of a gymnast in motion that makes them appear bionic, like a whole separate species of mechanical people. It is the sense of conflict, between the mechanic and organic, and between the illusion of invincibility and the fact of human fragility within her craft that Reckert explores in this piece, albeit with rather mixed results.

A genuine, if frustratingly fleeting, insight into the vulnerability and humanity of these sometimes rather distant-seeming performers.

Employing monologues, gymnastics and dance, Reckert explores a series of parables for this conflicted craft: an egg, a bird, a toffee, a cake. Reckert is an exceptional gymnast and the discipline she displays in forcing herself through several punishing routines, many of which involve precarious one-handed balance on a rather frightening modified pommel horse- is commendable (though with the explosion of circus on the fringe in recent years, there is no shortage of similarly impressive physical feats around these parts).Her vocal delivery, however, needs some work, often blank and lacking the depth and nuance demanded by her more cryptic verbal descriptions.

The real coup of the piece comes in an early sequence involving Reckert tumbling amongst a dozen or so titular eggs strewn across the floor. Accustomed to circus gimmickry, we might expect them to be delicately sidestepped but, inevitability yet somehow shockingly, they shatter, smattering her with their gooey interior. As a metaphor for her craft this works extremely well: eggs exude a strength and solidity belied by their fragility, a conflict of appearance and reality which Reckert playfully explores- ‘this egg is my idol’ she tells us mischievously.

The show fails to build on this promising start and a sequence in which she likens her sense of malleability to being ‘filled with salt toffee’ feels less developed and rather repetitive. The aforementioned mechanical aspects of the gymnastic craft are also explored a little heavy-handedly, both by the rather disappointing dance sequences, which were sometimes slightly high school dance show-cum-flight attendant (she did a rather shameless take on the ‘robot’ a few too many times) and by the blaring sub-Kraftwerk techno music score which threatened to drown the subtleties of the piece.

Some of the show's more affecting moments were when we saw the facade start to crack in more subtle ways - Reckert, flushed, taking a prolonged pause after a routine to catch her breath, an anecdote about the elation of her first handstand when she was five and, most intriguingly, a stark description of the 'hot purple storm’ of agony that accumulates inside her as she holds herself in position. These moments, provided a genuine, if frustratingly fleeting, insight into the vulnerability and humanity of these sometimes rather distant-seeming performers.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

World renowned hand balancer Natalie Reckert presents her solo show, where stand-up comedy meets electro-robotics in a feat of handstand endurance. A funny and frivolous self-portrait. Selfie With Eggs creates an insight into the world of an acrobat. A highly skilled one-woman experiment testing the limits of the body and the stability of quite a few eggs... ‘A total joy from beginning end. An utterly beguiling solo performance that combines extraordinary physical skill with an unforgettable performance. Life would be poorer without individual and maverick talents such as Natalie Reckert’ (Steve Cowton, The Lowry).

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