Bianco: Theater review by Jenna Scherer
It doesn’t seem like an accident that NoFit State, a scruffy circus troupe from Wales, is making its stateside debut in Brooklyn at the same time that a certain other cirque nouveau outfit is stretching its wings on Broadway. And if you’re looking for a decidedly downtown alternative to Cirque du Soleil’s glitzy Paramour, Bianco is not a bad alternative.
Just don’t expect to kick back. Bianco unfolds inside a spacey-looking tent under the Brooklyn Bridge (within flying-trapeze distance of presenter St. Ann’s Warehouse) that has lots of high wires but absolutely no seats. The show bills itself as an “immersive promenade experience,” but it’s really more like a concert in which the roadies are constantly shoving the audience around like so much sound equipment; it might have been better just to stick to one spot.
Acrobats dressed like 1920s vagabonds and steampunk outcasts do a lot with a little. Though there’s some snazzy stuff with trampolines and visual coups de théâtre, Bianco’s most striking moments utilize little more than strands of rope and the performers’ physical prowess.
Bianco wants to be both iconoclastic and flashy but isn’t quite either. The appeal of this big-top show isn’t in the high-concept aesthetics or technical flourishes, which feel a little overcooked. It’s in the curve of a bicep, the arch of a back and the tightrope walker’s foot that negotiates the wire.—Jenna Scherer
St. Ann’s Warehouse (Off Broadway). By NoFit State. Directed by Firenza Guidi. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.