Circus Sampler, Somerset House

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by Rebecca JS Nice

The Circus Sampler at Somerset House, two weekends of events focusing on circus with an emphasis on introducing skills to first timers, opens with a demonstration of hula-hoop skills and an opportunity to try it out with the Majorettes. Far From the Norm perform Union Black, a hip-hop battle incorporating two Chinese poles, a tight rope and a cyr wheel, on the first weekend. A lack-lustre exhibition inside Somerset House, under researched and cheaply displayed, gives a snapshot of different circus styles and companies over time. Gandini Juggling Company bring the week of community events and performances to a close with a site responsive choreography, sophisticated in form and silly in performance.

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The Little Mermaid, Underbelly Southbank

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by guest critic Rebecca JS Nice

Just before the skies break and the rains come, lethargic families are lulled and tempered by six mermaids swimming through the heavy air. I applaud the cast who carry a full length narrative piece with live song, and music to the pinnacle of the tent in the heatwave.

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Elixir, Underbelly Southbank

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by guest critic Rebecca JS Nice

Elixir’s programming at Edinburgh Festival 2016 packed out the purple cow and Thomas Gorham, Rowan Thomas and Cal Harris filled the expansive space with charisma and flying bodies. Playing to a much more intimate audience in the Underbelly’s Spiegeltent this year, Australian company Head First Acrobats carefully adapt their relationship with the audience which is bought right up close to a whizzing cyr wheel and regurgitated tonic water.

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SOAP, Underbelly

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by guest critic Rebecca JS NIce

Two proud directors, Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, celebrate ten years of Underbelly at the Southbank on 10 May with an open bar and free mini-burgers that a supremely jolly audience maul the waiting staff to get their hands on. Bartlam makes a speech while Wood suavely leans by his side as he reminds us all how they bought the iconic purple cow from Edinburgh to London, including its strong and diverse circus programme which this year boasts returning favourite Elixir alongside Circolumbia and Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams to name a few. Rather wet cast members provide the celebratory performance in a show where sex and some circus tricks provide shits and giggles in the intimate Spiegeltent housing five bathtubs.

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The Bekkrell Effect, Roundhouse

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by guest critic Rebecca JS Nice

Groupe Bekkrell at CircusFest 2018 presents four women with a climbing rope, teeter board, tight rope, Chinese pole and one energetic stage hand. Four women dressed in tweed and a stage rigged with lights directly at its edge sit tiny as a nucleus within the vast empty dome of the interior of The Roundhouse. Despite the booming base and explosive soundtrack, the work has a gentle expansive presence that dwarfs its surroundings by the time it comes to an end.

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Hot Brown Honey, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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‘The revolution is childcare!’ proclaims Busty Beatz from the top of her honeycomb mountain. The revolution also honours people from First Nations around the world, respects women of colour and escapes the constraints of imperialism. It’s owning your body, your sexuality and your race. It is Hot Brown Honey, the radical feminist cabaret from Australian women of colour.

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