Tag Archives: circus

Theatre Review: Siro-A (Leicester Square Theatre, London)

unnamed (1)Rating: *****

In A Nutshell

Returning to London with a new show, Siro-A continue to phenomenally push the boundaries of technology and theatre, taking them beyond the standard that they themselves trail-blazed.

Overview

A miming, clowning, magic, acrobatic, and visual spectacular at the forefront of theatre technology, humour, and imagination.

Concept

Siro-A is like nothing you’ll have seen before. Even their tag-line of being “Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group” doesn’t really do them any justice. This “technodelic entertainment” venture is all about combining lights, sound, images, and physical performance into a show that defies imagination and dazzles the senses. Essentially an exhilarating digital circus, they’ve met with rave reviews across the globe. Indeed, this time last year saw me gushing over their previous show, with a glowing 5* endorsement. So, already knowing just how good they are, the question for me was how they would be able to better the extraordinary bar they had set last year.

Thankfully, they’ve managed to outdo themselves, even managing to produce a show that contains a majority of brand spanking new content. Whilst toying with 3D projections still forms the basis of the show, where Siro-A have outdone themselves is by excelling in experimenting with new mediums that weren’t in their last production.

Particularly, there is are whole segments that utilises live video and video looping and modulation techniques. Their approach to these segments carries the same magnificent sense of invention and creativity that is inherent in everything that they do. Even though breaking new ground, it’s just as exciting as and meticulously executed as their tried and tested material and are as surprising and as astonishing as everything else.

Furthermore, there is a wonderful balance between humour and aesthetics. The more comic segments are wonderfully wry, such as the typographical/Bretchian treatment of popular films that’s an absolute hoot, as well as a face-pace and tongue-in-check montage of Japanese culture that’s as if Terry Gilliam had worked with the Osaka Tourist Board. But there are also moments of sheer beauty and high-aestheticism that are literally awesome and stupendously arresting. “Peacock” is an exquisite rainbow-clad ballet that is as mind-bogglingly kaleidoscopic as it is sumptuously psychedelic.

Production & Performance

Whilst I’m aware that my usual format deals with two elements individually, for this show it’s really difficult to separate them. Given the rigid technicality of the show, everything about what’s done on stage, from Daichi Norikane’s video and Kentaro Homma’s music to the cast’s movement and electronic interplay, has to be precise and meticulously executed. Without a complete harmony between all these elements, nothing would work or come off effectively. Yet despite the huge margin for error, Siro-A pulls off a miraculously slick concord. The only criticism that I could possibly give is that it’s impossible to get it right 100% of the time. A box might be narrowly an inch to far to the left or right, making you notice just how exact the entire production needs to be. Given that they don’t have the grace of a larger venue to make these less noticeable (something which I picked up on with their last show), their herculean effort is as close to perfection as you’re ever going to get, getting it right at least 97% (if not more) of the time.

The cast are also a lot more athletic and energetic, adding high octane acrobatics into segments old and new to keep the adrenaline pumping and audience’s jaws permanently on the floor. Given just how precise every single movement has to be in the show, you quickly find that Keiji Miya, Fumiya, Yohei, and Toshiya Arai are all unreasonably gifted physical performers of the highest pedigree.

As well as reaching out to incorporate new electric mediums, the Siro-A troupe have incorporated more interactive segments with the audience too. Whilst it might seem like the usual slightly awkward audience participation skit that you find in family shows, it’s a marvellous surprise to find that all of it is used and inputted into the technology of the show itself, making it joyously far more than meets the eye and making you a part of their world.

But the real joy is that the result of the show on a whole is how it obliterates the line between reality and virtual reality as you end up being unable to figure out where the tangible ends and the technological beings. It’s as if GameBoy cartridges were illicit drugs: exciting, audacious, and perception-bending.

Verdict

Adults and kids alike cannot failed to be wowed by this astonishing extravaganza. Literally awesome, and proof that magic still exists in a digitally mundane world.

[youtube http://youtu.be/yHsaXQUPheE]

Siro-A plays at the Leicester Square Theatre, WC2H 7BX, until 11 January 2015. Tickets are £20 (concession and family tickets available). To book, visit http://leicestersquaretheatre.com. For more information about the group, check out their official YouTube channel.

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Cabaret Review: Briefs: The Second Coming (London Wonderground, London)

Evil Hate Monkey expertly plays with Captain Kidd's ring! Photograph: Courtesy of Roy Tan.

Evil Hate Monkey expertly plays with Captain Kidd’s ring! Photograph: Courtesy of Roy Tan.

Rating: *****

In A Nutshell

Outrageous, arousing, and utterly gob-smacking. Rethink everything you thought you ever knew about circus and burlesque, because you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Overview

Aussie performance troupe return to London Wonderground with their show Briefs: The Second Coming, after a successful stint at Glastonbury, with several new and rebooted elements. A fusion of circus, cabaret, drag, and burlesque, it’s the most surprising, sexy, and scandalous show the capital has ever seen.

Production

Everything is as slick, glitzy, and sumptuous as you could ever imagine. For starters, the costumes really are as show-stopping as the acts themselves: this is by no means the bargain bin at Anne Summers. The outfits are as intricate as they are provocative, and impress as much as they titillate. Yet the attire is just the first glimpse of a high-end and meticulous production that is hidden behind the show’s anarchic energy and inglorious affront.

Particularly, there is a real attention and embrace of aesthetics here that take this far beyond being a mere pumped-up peep show. Everything from UV osterich feathers, to well executed lighting design, really augment the acts. The performers themselves already have an intrinsic sense of visual artistry in what they do. But the production just makes these into even more stunning moments, turning them into gasp-out-loud acts of daring debauchery.

A tiny criticism is that some of the interludes (particularly in covering set changes) means the pace can sometimes drop too quickly from heart-pounding sexual octane or dizzying acrobatics, leaving you a little bewildered and agitated as it’s an awkward come down. However, these bits of padding thankfully have their own sense of joy that make them feel as integral to the show as the more rehearsed and climactic sequences.

One other criticism is that there is one moment that probably takes good/bad taste a little too far, and is certainly not something that is for the weak of stomach. Whilst merely attending a male drag burlesque show means you’re not one to be easily offended, one particular scene (not giving too much away) does push comfort zones a little too much; some may find it rather unnecessary even within the pervy pretext of the show. But as long as you view it as outlandish and risqué as the rest of the evening, you’ll still be able to at least produce a shriek and a guffaw between the dry-retching!

Performers

Every performer in the show brings something as unique and amazing as the next. But as a troupe, they bristle with a filthy wit and eroticism that is unmatched by anything else that you’ll have ever seen. Hostess Fez Faanana/Shivannah is as sassy a drag queen compère at they come, adding a ridiculous camp and sharp glamour to the proceedings as she expertly works the crowd. Dallas Dellaforce’s drag interludes are also salacious and shocking, making “Priscilla” look tacky and tame by comparison.

Physical performers Captain Kidd, Evil Hate Monkey, Thom Worrell, and Louis Biggs are all also at the prime of their talent, absolutely wowing you in such a manner that they take you from behind by complete surprise. There are moments where your jaws will drop with amazement (or cringe in disbelief) at just how astonishing their skills are. Even if you’ve seen these kind of circus acts before, these boys pull out all the stops, raising the bar and executing some genuinely unique and gob-smacking tricks that really makes this a superlative spectacle. You just can’t wait to see what feat they’re going to pull next as well as what item of clothing will disappear with it. Particular mention must go to Captain Kidd, who’s “birdbath” grand finale takes your breath away, whilst simultaneously making you literally wet with excitement (especially if you’re in the first few rows).

These are also a band of performers who are sexy and know it. I know it’s a little cheap to so openly lust over performers in a review, but if a burlesque night doesn’t make your groins stir with delight then it’s not doing its job properly. And, by Jove, do these boys know how to get your blood pumping to those more intimate areas. They revel in the knowing fact that they are some of the most achingly gorgeous performers on the circuit, and do their best to expertly tease as they do dazzle. But even then, they play with both being cheeky and humorous by sending up traditional burlesque with steamy satire, as well as pushing the modern boundaries of the genre. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a yo-yo again without getting at least a semi!

Verdict

Put this altogether and there were moments where I didn’t know whether to applaud wildly, laugh, be reviled, or cross my legs! Hot, haughty, and hilarious, this a mesmerising kaleidoscope of sleaze and mind-blowing performances unlike anything else. I’ve never wanted to run away to the circus so badly! #woof

[youtube http://youtu.be/Ft7WxWbON2s]

Briefs: The Second Coming plays at the London Wonderground, London, SE1 8XX, until 28 September 2014. Tickets are £16.50-£21.50. To book, visit www.londonwonderground.co.uk.