Rarely can several dozen eggs have been the focus of so much tension. Here they are, at the start of this hour-long show from Australian circus quartet Casus: three egg-boxes; a woman – Emma Serjeant, the troupe’s lone female performer, and one of astonishing strength and skill – balancing on top of them, moving from one to the other without cracking a single shell.
The show, a hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, is full of such potent, intensely visual images: a stool balanced on four wine-bottles; a man spinning and contorting around an egg-cup. Where most contemporary circus shows build towards single, wow-factor moments, ‘Knee Deep’s charm is cumulative: there is gasp-inducing stuff – a performer spinning through 360 degrees, like a swing; the whole quartet hanging from a single trapeze – but its focus is more on the intense, tender power of partner acrobatics, and the sheer strength of the human body.
There are a couple of slightly flat moments: a nail hammered into a nose is both queasy and out of kilter with the rhythmic physicality of the rest of the show (Casus occupy a compelling middle-ground between circus and contemporary dance). But this is high-octane acrobatics – beautifully executed, intensely watchable, and full of images that linger long in the memory.
By Laura Barnett