Circa & Debussy String Quartet: Opus

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© Justin Nicholas

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Justin Nicholas

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Justin Nicholas

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Justin Nicholas

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Justin Nicholas

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Justin Nicholas

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Herve All

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Herve All

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© Herve All

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© LoLL Willems

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

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© LoLL Willems

Circa and Debussy String Quartet: 'Opus'

This show by Aussie circus company Circa should come with a ‘don’t try this at home’ warning. The piece relies on so few gimmicks, it looks as though all you might need to pull off a jaw-dropping acrobatic stunt is a running jump and a couple of hefty guys to catch you.

The fact that Circa makes feats of supreme strength, agility and prowess look like anyone could have a go is an accomplishment, of course. ‘Opus’ is so effortless and graceful it teeters on the edge of contemporary dance. The appearance of the Debussy Quartet, playing live onstage, certainly helps to blur genre boundaries still more. The musicians perform Shostakovich’s beautiful but intense string quartets throughout, standing in bare feet and white shirts as the 14-strong company cavort around them.

In the otherworldly first half, bodies contort, wiggle and flop onto the floor to writhe to the heavy music. It’s here that the piece blends most with dance, although the choreography feels a touch derivative, with the odd flash of influence from Hofesh Shechter.

The second half has a more old-school strongman vibe: the performers strip down to pants and leotards and use the stage as a springboard to throw each other around. Jason Organ’s slick reflective stage designs and backdrop of bright light bulbs keeps a modern touch and the inventiveness of director Yaron Lifschitz’s acrobatics here is breathtaking. Using barely a prop, the entire company are onstage most of the time, jumping through human hoops and balancing precariously on top of each other. At one point a huge man is picked up by his head, at another, a woman is thrown through the air and caught as if she were as light as a beach ball.

This is circus boiled down to its bare, creative heart and as such is a thrilling, riveting experience.

Event phone: 020 7638 8891
Event website: http://www.barbican.org.uk
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