‘Circus-Cision’, by Head First Acrobats

Review from: Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 21st August 2018

Cal Harris and Thomas Gorham in Circus-Cision IMAGE: PhotosByDavid

Circus-Cision at Underbelly’s Circus Hub is a late night variety show hosted by Head First Acrobats (whose family friendly show Arr we There Yet? is absolutely on my list to see this fringe), and featuring snippets of performers from other works. On Tuesday night of the last week, Head First Acrobats appear a little tired, lacking the sparkle in their eyes that normally gives their work oodles of charisma. Cal Harris presents the works – along with several bad jokes and a balloon trick through the nose that makes me gag over my laptop as I type. He also performs an acro-balance act with Thomas Gorham:  tilting like a table-top human as a base, balanced by Gorham standing on Harris’ thighs in a forward bend; a one-handed handstand as one man holds on to a single leg of the other laid on the floor; head-to-head with no hands – Harris and Gorham make a fierce pair. The addition of some Game of Thrones costumes and some questionable undies turn their sophisticated balances into a cheeky sex show between Daenerys and Khal Drogo.

Rowan Thomas in ‘Circus-Cision’ IMAGE: PhotosByDavid

Rowan Thomas’ command of the Cyr wheel is particularly engaging every time I see him perform. His routine on the small round thrust of the stage plays with a slower dynamic that feels even harder to control. In true cabaret style he manages to strip his clothes while on the wheel – with every limb that releases and de-robes, he supports himself without it. He is always in time with the music and always changes too often for me write to it all down. His footwork, stepping through, on and rolling back and forth with the Cyr is fast and dynamic against the slower methodical restraint of the routine. Thomas changes levels and speeds of the coin spin so his body is closer to the floor than in any Cyr wheel act I have seen. He’s dexterous and delicate as he bounces on to the top of the wheel and hangs from it by the back of his knee. He performs this complex vocabulary to “You Can Leave Your Hat On” … I just wish he did #blushing.

Chelsea Angell, who appeared earlier this year in Circusy Caterpillar at Underbelly’s London festival, performs a hula hoop act. She rolls her props along the floor and pings them up her body with her toes. Her routine is stereotypically sexy but is interesting and varied, using tableaux, symmetry and varied pathways of the hoops including reversals in direction.

Chelsea Angell in Circus-Cision IMAGE: PhotosByDavid

Mr. Fish performs a street arts style routine. His clowning relies on the fail of every trick he sets up however, in a festival full of performers who have mastered each trick, his work falls flat for me.

Kali Retallack, from Casus, performs an aerial hoop act with sensitive musicality and careful inflections of the body. Subtly twisting from a side split to an arabesque through the hoop, or performing a one-handed freeze, arm bent at the elbow with legs horizontal, her balances are sensuously stylised with flexed and pointed feet in a slick routine.

With only three external artists accompanying the Head First Acrobats, the variety feels lacking, however an hour-long show whizzes by in a matter of minutes. Circus-cision isn’t the raunchiest, naughtiest or challenging of the late-night shows (it plays at 10pm) but it is a solid offering sitting somewhere between the daytime acts and the adult shows.


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