‘Le Coup’, by Company 2

Review from: Underbelly Circus Hub (Beauty), Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 18th August 2019

Company 2’s new show​ Le Coup​ is a fun and farcical ride, filled with unpredictable acts and outlandish characters. It’s based on traditional Australian touring boxing tents and the performers enthuse us to cheer for our favourite and ‘place bets’. Our ringleader announces ‘pain is temporary, glory is forever!’, and the fights that ensue entail all of the bravado and dramatics of professional wrestling.

This vaudevillian show is bursting with extravagant characters, including the ‘hungry Hungarian’ who licks his lips erratically, the ‘lone twin’, and the undefeated ‘king’ who wears a tin can crown. This is a great example of when a theme has not just been added to an act as an after-thought; the integration has clearly taken place throughout the process, with the tricks, choreography and the storyline or relationships being created simultaneously. The fighting fits well with partner and group acrobatics, with banquine, swinging and hand to hand all being used to portray the conflict. Alongside some more common disciplines such as solo and doubles trapeze, we are introduced to some lesser seen practises. This includes some ludicrous turtle-racing in wooden barrels, hair hanging whilst spinning incredibly fast and – my favourite act – some amazing but terrifying bowling ball manipulation.

This is all accompanied by live music from the ‘musical matadors’ ​(Father Grant and The Blunt Objects) ​who add to the energetic atmosphere and are an intrinsic part of the performance. The playful approach to director Chelsea McGuffin’s production is mirrored in the music, with instruments played in unconventional ways and witty lyrics in an amusing song about death. The performers are not afraid to stray from the constrictions of traditional gender roles and it is pleasing to see that the women are not used as aesthetic props. In the duo trapeze act it is interesting to have the flyer as the dominant of the two and throughout all the fighters are pitted against each other as equals. The costumes consist of ruffs, fishnets, velvet and eyeliner providing a nod to traditional circus with an anarchic twist. Bursting with extraordinary entertainment and fantastic circus, ​Le Coup​ definitely packs a punch.

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