Bromance (Mime Festival)
The 2015 London International Mime Festival kicks off with the debut show by 'Britain's hottest young acrobats'
Young men are fascinating things, aren't they? So outwardly confident, yet so inwardly insecure. They're brilliant and beautiful - but don't they know it. They're also cocksure, clueless and vain.
You see all that in Bromance, the debut show from Circus Space grads Barely Methodical that opens this year's Mime Festival. Ostensibly, it's about male friendships - the way blokes can be both besties and rivals - but it mostly puts young men under the microscope with all their brio and all their banality.
Louis Gift, Beren D'Amico and Charlie Wheeller are good-looking and well-groomed. In matching burgundy tops, with boxers poking over their waistbands, they could pass for Topman models. For an hour, they chuck one another around onstage: sometimes playful and tender; sometimes, rough and irritable. Just like mates. And because there are three of them, someone's always left out or butt of the joke.
Bromance starts with a handshake: men measuring one another up. A minute later, after a three-way shake goes wrong, the trio becomes entangled in a human knot. They end the show stacked in a totem, totally working together: Gift at the bottom, D'Amico on top in a Native American war bonnet. Oh yeah, they're all in their pants by that point, which nobody seems to mind whatsoever. ("I owe you one," whispered my female friend. "Big time.")
'They all seem so effortless and nonchalant, so unhurried, as only young men can'
They're a well-balanced trio - like rock, paper, scissors. Gift's the strong one, D'Amico, the smoothie and Wheeller, the clown. Each of those traits is attractive in its own way, and it allows the three of them to size each other up and compete like jealous young bucks. Eddie Kay's fine-tuned direction really brings out their best.
It makes for some gorgeous moments: Gift and D'Amico tumbling together, growing sincere as they warm to each other and work as one; Wheeller alone, awash with his insecurities, killing time on the Cyr Wheel in an extraordinary routine that lets itself become beautiful. He seems to be walking on air.
They all seem so effortless and nonchalant, so unhurried, as only young men can. They make Sunday mornings look like rocket science. It's brilliantly easy on the eye. Then, every now and then, they start to show off, as young men will do. The odd double back-flip or triple turn lands with a wink. They make prats of themselves, but they're not afraid of delicacy either: one scene sees them at a urinal, sneaking peeks left and right, before turning to reveal origami swans of different sizes.
This is what happens when you invest in an art form over time: you get brilliant emerging artists capable of opening a major international festival with their debut. Bromance is real coup for British circus - watchable, wry and utterly winning. Barely Methodical aren't quite the finished article, but they are its next big thing.
Bromance runs until 10 January 2015 at Platform Theatre in King's Cross