She Would Walk the Sky (Roundhouse)
Company 2 combine circus and theatre in this captivating new production
A welcome innovation of recent years has been the advent of sophisticated circus entertainment, a trend continued by the Australian-based ensemble, Company 2, now appearing as part of the Roundhouse's Circus Fest 2014. She Would Walk The Sky, directed by Chelsea McGuffin and written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, has the feel of a Victorian circus somewhere in central Europe.
There's a slight tale that draws the show together; the Distant One (none of the performers have names, only designations) falls in love with a sailor and leaves her extended family at the Red River House, until she is found by the man who loves her and brings her home.
The story isn't that important. What enthralls are the superb circus skills of the troupe as they walk the tightrope, perform acrobatics and trapeze tricks, cycle across tightropes, leap and bound and dance and perform handstands and build human pyramids with supreme grace and strength. These are performances that seem to defy gravity - not to mention physics and anatomy.
Backing the mesmerising acrobatics, the music (written and brilliantly performed by Sue Simpson and Trent Arkleysmith) circles through genres including blue grass, southern soul and jazz styles with an ethereal overlay, like a cross between the works of Barrington Pheloung and Murray Gold, and all played on an impressive range of instruments.
It's not entirely unflawed. The music is occasionally unnecessarily over-amplified, echoing in the tent-space. And the Clown's antics, while at first amusing, tend to go on too long, putting a brake on the flow of the performance. A letter reading scene, for example, could have been curtailed with no loss of the humour of the situation. Sadly the temptation to milk the joke was taken a step too far and it became unfunny and indulgent. Minor points though in an otherwise amazing evening's entertainment.
She Would Walk the Sky continues at the Roundhouse until 17 April