Opus | Circa / Debussy String Quartet

February 2014 | Barbican Theatre, London

Circa recently performed to sell-out audiences with How Like an Angel at St Bartholomew-the-great with British ensemble I Fagiolini, combining impressive physical feats and harmonies from medieval repertoires. This time round they bring circus improvisation, tumbling and acrobatics with three of Shostakovich’s string quartets. Since they’ve already established that classical music makes a good soundtrack for contemporary circus, in what ways have they developed this style of collaboration? The acrobatics are slick and always surprising, making use of every opportunity and space to pull off impressive moves. The performers begin with small improvisations creating meetings and playing with each other. Then there is a solo aerial demonstration which, although technically very good, made one hope that the show wouldn’t be structured completely in this manner; lists of circus styles is for the traditional environment.

Shakespeare’s Henry V | Guildhall School Acting Course

February 2014 | Milton Court Studio Theatre

The disadvantages to seeing a show primarily aimed at showcasing new talent to agents and families is that often you get an overly confident or imposed performance from its actors. Everything is aimed to convincing that they can act rather than delivering the required role of character/ensemble sensitively. On the other hand these showcases are often far more interesting because there is an atmosphere that is exciting as they are taking the opportunity to be noticed, creating good energy and demonstrating what they have learnt intensively over the last few years. For these performers the stakes are already high; a good footing when presenting Shakespeare. Here both points are prevalent: implying a general success in solid Drama school training while not without faults in design and ensemble discipline.

Jack Charles V the Crown | Ilbijerri Theatre Co.

February, 2014 | Barbican Pit Theater

Jack Charles’ new project follows a seven-year long documentary [Bastardy, 2009] of his life as an aboriginal child; institutionalised within child care and the ‘Victorian’ prison system, as an actor, activist and drug addict of forty years. The play, which could be treated as an extension or aftermath of the documentary’s release has Jack Charles scrutinising his remarkable life, alluding to his crimes, struggles and sexual disposition with comment and reflection using real props, live music and multimedia in the form of projected film and official police documents.

iTMOi | Akram Khan Company

6-7th March, 2014 | Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Grand Theatre.

As a dance piece, iTMOi is the most theatrical of Khan’s performances to date, and shows a sensibility that seems to owe more to Robert Wilson than it does to even the progressive choreography of the original Rite of Spring.

In the Mind of Igor reimagines Stravinski’s Rite, with new music and choreography, borrowing from the Bible and Greek myth to re-examine human sacrifice from its inception. We begin with an incredible rasping, inhumanly vocalised interpretation of God’s injunction to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. The violence of an Old Testament god is brilliantly captured in the movement and delivery. We come to another human sacrifice, possibly echoing the Iphigenia myth, who after her own sacrifice supplants the sacrificing Goddess (Artemis?). This is a theatrical composition that is visceral and moving for its imagery and choreography rather than its narrative. The costumes and folk elements seem to be inspired by Russian (or Georgian?) traditional dance.