Staged in George Square’s magical spiegeltent, YUCK puts a feminist spin on traditional circus, packing out the space with shrieks of laughter.
Puts a feminist spin on traditional circus, packing out the space with shrieks of laughter
Five women bring their light Aussie humour to the stage, gender-bending with moustaches and flexing their muscles in a hilarious impersonation of body-building lads. Their strength, however, is impressively real as they construct four storey formations, holding one another in complex shapes that defy gravity. In fact, they reinvent traditional ‘strong-man’ postures by standing on one another’s boobs, unafraid to show the audience how far their bodies can go.
Each woman in YUCK is a clown as well as a highly skilled circus performer, bringing comedy to her unique tricks ranging from aerial silks to the gruesome ‘human blockhead’. Each scene sheds new light on the tendencies of lad culture, revealing how circus itself is normally implicated in patriarchal understandings of strength and talent. I particularly enjoyed the parody of aerial silks - a typically ‘female’ circus act - which managed to wow the audience with the performer’s dexterity, whilst mocking the typically ethereal mood of aerial acts.
In contrast to traditional circus, the performers were open about the pain involved in these exercises, making the struggle into a moment of comedy. The show weaves together vignettes with seamless choreography and musings from drinking culture to menstruation. And like all the best circus shows, there is a sense of narrative that carries through the scenes, moving beyond the intrigue of the acts themselves and asking us how it feels to watch an all-female circus.
As an aspiring aerial silks performer, I actually found moments of this show very moving, despite its constant calls for laughter. Although some audience members may be put off by the show’s ‘yucky’ innuendos and interest in bodily fluids, YUCK’s light touch overpowers the gory details. Clowning in this show does not tend to move beyond the scatological. However, the show does touch on something profound in simply showing that women of all shapes and sizes can make incredibly entertaining circus.