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Australian circus company Circa are back with another of their stripped back shows that demonstrate the pure power of their acrobats. But in this new four-person piece you get a smidgen closer to the action. At the back of an otherwise bare stage is a huge video projection of lithe circus bodies. It’s zoomed-in and in slow-mo and stomachs, biceps and thighs all ripple as they jump, thump and balance. It’s what sheer effort looks like.
But ‘Close Up’ is not just about getting a magnified view of these acrobats’ mighty guns. It’s also about breaking down some audience-performer boundaries. ‘I just thought you might like to take this opportunity to touch the hands of a hand balancer,’ says Daniel O’Brien as he proffers his arm out to the audience. Performer Todd Kilby, in a moment in-between acts, explains where he started and why he loves the Chinese pole. ‘I hope you get a little of the joy it fills me with too,’ he says.
These meet-the-neighbour moments, where tricks are dissected and we’re given the performers’ backstories, are great. They make these acrobats more human, which actually makes what they’re doing all the more extraordinary. It’s just a pity that the moments are occasional. The majority of the show feels as though it’s performed at arm’s length and the tone sits oddly between reverential and raucous.
But there’s still some astounding stunts here, not least in Lauren Herley’s rope work, and the hula hoop finale from Lisa Goldsworthy is excellent fun. At one point Herley does a crab and Kilby, from a standing position, jumps with two feet slap bang onto her stomach. It’s a display of strength that will make you wonder how on earth her back didn’t just snap. Shocking, fun and completely awe-inspiring.