The first rule of Bite Club – tell absolutely everybody about Bite Club! Briefs Factory are back in Britain, and not a moment too soon. Feathers, wigs, exceptional headwear, soaking wet thongs, a man entirely covered in glitter – what more could you possibly want? Heartfelt sentiments and joy? Also check.
The now ubiquitous cabaret and circus spectacular La Clique has made its annual return to London for its eighteenth year. As the compere says before the show started, the consumption of alcohol is very much encouraged. Though this leads to big queues at the bars, which will hopefully speed up over the run, it’s a great night out. Located in the spiegeltent in Cavendish Square, behind John Lewis on Oxford Street, it’s a lovely spot on sunny days.
‘’Everything is Big at the big top! Its Big, it’s whopping, the fun’s never stopping!’’
Nora, a clumsy girl with no gang of friends, discovers that she is the long lost great-great-great-granddaughter of Big Bones, the owner of the Big Bones Big Top Circus! We follow her journey to the big top where she meets various characters, such as Jim Membership the strong man. Nora is also met with the news that the Big Top has a curse, which prevents audiences seeing the show. Will Nora be able to reverse the curse and reconnect audiences with the circus?
The Art of Cuddling and Other Things might more aptly be named the art of subversion, as Circ Motif delight in carefully building a set-up before delivering a delightfully twisted punch line. The die is cast with the opening sequence. Lights fade up on two men standing 10 feet away from each other, staring in blank silence. In the corner, a multi-instrumentalist solemnly creates an ambient soundscape (think Brian Eno when he still had long hair). The two men walk towards each other and – without uttering a word – they embrace. Ahh, the art of cuddling. How touching.
“We’re going to go with intuition”, Ruby Wednesday tells a lady from Chiswick, as ambience-maestros Yoshi peel out the start of a haunting, rhythmic dive into minor keys and mayhem. Returning to VAULT Festival after a break-out 2019 run, The Feathers of Daedalus have taken Tarot up a notch, blending their signature circus and dance performances with audience readings and a soul funk soundtrack with climaxes a-plenty.
Why the Child is Cooking in the Polenta is an odd show, odder even than the name promises. Edith Alibec stars as a young Romanian woman, pre-pubescent in the earliest scenes, who grows up in a traveling circus where her mother hangs from the big top by her hair. The play is based on Aglja Veteranyi’s autobiographical novel of the same name.
It seems like the Bunker has been transformed into a small-scale, DIY circus, setting the mood for a playful and uplifting story. Instead, an ensemble of 16 enacts a series of grotesque and infuriating sketches depicting refugees’ and asylum seekers’ experiences navigating the UK’s racist and classist ‘Hostile Environment’.
Black Cat: Bohemia is a French-style cabaret show combining many exciting acts, including fire eating, aerial choreography and hula-hoop jumping. All of this is interspersed with lots of singing and dancing.
Barely Methodical Troupe members Louis Gift, Esmeralda Nikolajeff, Elihu Vazquez and Charlie Wheeller are bound together by their reliance on each other to lift, and catch so that very little happens independently. SHIFT plays with balance, direction and suspension by adding an object to the ensemble that has the strength and flexibility to bear weight and change gravitational paths. A giant elastic band acts as a naughty fifth body and limb, changing up the choreography and providing endless opportunities for play and experimentation.
Circus is a a marvellous showcase of physical skill and the possibilities of the human body, but with this often comes a sexualised view of women and men dominating the form with their strength. Tabarnak certainly focuses on the latter, with the women serving more as support to the acts. Fortunately there’s feminist circus in the form of Casting Off that challenges women’s role in society and the circus.