Remember swinging on the monkey bars, playing hoola or clambering up trees? Circus show ‘Flown’ is a combination of these childhood games, only magnified and magnificent. There’s a lot of clowning around, which really grates, but the main aerial events are skin-tinglingly good.
Director James Williams has cultivated an atmosphere of low-level chaos among his international crew of circus performers, Pirates of the Carabina. The show begins with a mighty crash off stage and a fraught apology. Perhaps this is meant to keep us on our toes.
But this faux amateurism, which continues throughout the show, rings false and feels unnecessary.
There is also comedy, slapstick and live music – none of which I gave two hoots about. It’s the flying performers I was interested in and they didn’t disappoint. Jaakko Tenhunen defies the laws of gravity with his hand-balancing act, his arms shuddering with the effort. He also does some brilliant hoopwork and moves with such fluidity, it seems like he’s floating.
Aerialist Gwen Hales looks like an overgrown child, with her blonde wig and sparkly dress. But her aerial act, which involves a huge hanging sheet and unbelievable upper body strength, is seriously sophisticated. Chinese pole artist Laura Moy is at one with her apparatus. As she clambers, crawls and slides up a huge pole she remains always attached – yet looks utterly free.
By Miriam Gillinson