Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 8th August 2015
Something is a comic flickbook of everyday fantasy, presented by Italian company Liberi-Di. The seven performers each have a natural humour in their presentation, and excellent physical technique – including superb tricking skills that, somehow, always seem cooler than the traditional acrobatic repertoire. I am transfixed for the entire hour, continually delighted by each new revealed scene.
Riccardo Calia appears first as a studious type, who discards his daily newspaper for an old book he finds. Bursting onto the stage, as if from its pages, come the rest of the colourful and expressive cast, who proceed to transform themselves into characters from a passing array of complimentary and contrasting fictional worlds.
Calia is engrossing with the soft humour and exciting poetic choreography of his handbalance infused dance, and sets the beam high for the rest of the show. Whether we’re watching an epic underground adventure, fairy tale charm, or a ninja battle, the magic of the imagination is realised in contemporary form by this vibrant company.
An expert director’s touch seems apparent in the sci-fi seeming aerial hoop duet from Silvia Proietti and Valentina Marino (one of the four Liberi Di co-founders, including Davide Agostini who also performs in this piece). When I discover the company devise and create the work as an ensemble I’m even more impressed – they have an eye for melding interesting movement with strong pose imagery.
Physical technique and storytelling purpose are well connected with a clear internal logic – Bledar Radonshiqi tries to find a way to return to the ground as a bunch of helium balloons carry him up and away on the aerial straps; a game of poker is conducted in a working man’s club, albeit upside down and under the table.
Sound and music choices – and the timing with which they’re used to enhance the physical storytelling – are great, and the wheeled black flats provide both a convenient touring set, plus a unique take on the ‘quick change illusion’.
The company not only have clear visionary ideas, they also know how to execute them with vigour. Something is excellence in the art of popular entertainment, and I look forward to seeing more from Liberi Di in the UK in the future.