My Land

I have absolutely nothing but admiration to the performers of Recirquel Company Budapest, given that some of their number must have spent their entire lives training their lean, muscular, sinewy bodies to do things that the human form is surely not supposed to be able to do. But just because they can do something doesn’t mean it’s intrinsically worth doing, especially when dressed up in a pretentious framework of confused human mythology and symbolism.

These are circus skills performed with skill, grace and a sufficient hint of just how difficult and dangerous they really are.

Visually, yes, it can be stunning: not least when beams of light are revealed as the performers brush away sand from the rectangular sand-covered performance space in the centre of the stage. They also have some minor fun with a large, malleable mirror surface. Audibly, however, there are times when the accompanying musical score – which switches from drums to flutes and vocal chords with unfortunately all-too-predictable regularity – pushes past the point of cliché in marking out this supposed exploration of humanity’s cultural and mythical roots. Performed, it has to be said, by a remarkably white cast too.

Let me repeat one thing: the performers are remarkable, whether giving the impression that they lack a few vertebra, juggling six or seven white balls at a time, or gymnastically dancing with a ladder. These are circus skills performed with skill, grace and a sufficient hint of just how difficult and dangerous they really are to achieve. It’s the pretentious, portentous framework that raised my heckles: also the potential sexism in that the lone woman in the cast of seven appears to be chiefly decorative, as the statue of a Greek goddess, and malleable to the desires of the men.

Disappointingly, there was also a lack of any sense in the individual performers’ characters growing out of the supposed wider narrative, unless you count an apparent duel by juggling between two of the performers. So, although this is clearly an ambitious attempt at creating contemporary circus, much of it struck me as gilding the lily unnecessarily, and in the process missing the core wonder of the whole exercise—the brilliant, wonder-creating gymnastics on display.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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Performances

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The Blurb

The List's top rated show of 2018, My Land, explores humanity's roots – the eternal inheritance of humankind and earth under the guidance of Artistic Director Bence Vági. Seven of Ukraine's most talented circus artists present a vision of light and shadow fusing ancient tradition with mind-blowing skills. The show that defined a new genre called cirque danse pushes the boundaries of the human body. Performers rise up from a soil-covered set as they search for the sound of their own freedom in a timeless space expanded by illusions. A Müpa production.

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