Barely Methodical Troupe defy definition; their circus skills, acrobatics, dance and highly physical theatre are astounding and take them beyond categorisation. The physicality of this performance alone was beyond belief as they launched each other across The Old Market with ease.
The opening was charming as they pretended to trip and stumble but with complete control and purpose. Climbing, swinging, spinning and balancing on each other, they made it look seamless and their momentary interactions with each other and the audience were innocent and delightful, as though they were just playing. Louis Gift, Esmeralda Nikolajeff, Elihu Vazquez and Charlie Wheeller are clearly gifted performers and together they make the perfect combination. Louis was teased for his height and more muscular build, while Esmeralda showed that she was just as capable of lifting her fellow performers above her head, even though she was the slightest on stage.
The highlight of the show was the introduction of the Cyr wheel; to see all four performers tumbling and rolling around the stage in perfect timing was stunning and exquisitely choreographed. This is a skill for any performer but for all four to be using it takes a lot of work and it really showed on stage.
The only let down really was the lack of discernible storyline. At one point Louis started telling a tale of floating down a river and picking items of clothing out of trees but he was interrupted before he really got to the point. Later, when Charlie was put to sleep (or died? It was hard to tell) it was a bit confusing, but it did make an excellent excuse for his fellow performers to lead him around the stage and animate him with their rubber bands. This was a great to watch, but felt a little bit random.
The accompanying sound, clever lighting and simple set all gave appropriate focus to the performers and their gravity-defying acrobatics. Credit is also due to Melissa Ellberger and Ella Robson Guilfoyle who directed and devised the show along with the cast. For every moment to be so perfectly timed and for the transitions to be so smooth between acts, it shows that SHIFT really is a special show.