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ockhamsIt was a pleasant treat to revisit Ockham’s Razor‘s show as part of the Circus Now conference, returning to its birthplace at the industrious artsdepot in Finchley (and how those Finchley hills provide a challenging pre-show cycle). Not Until We Are Lost comes from a strong creative partnership with the venue, and the company and production seem very much at home there. It is a series of vignettes that invite us to view aerial work from unusual angles, in an unexpectedly intimate way. Ockham’s Razor always perform on bespoke structures and we are initially gathered round a tall glass box which both constrains the performer and provides the means of her movement up the walls. Then the full company, in simple pastel clothing which gives them the appearance of curious children, playfully discover different ways of climbing, supporting and dropping on a set of angled scaffolding bars. We are so close that we feel the breeze from one of the performer’s hair as she spins past us, we see the strain on their muscles as they reach out to catch and hold one another and hear the concentrated breathing while they plan their next move. It is as if we have been welcomed into the aerialists’ private circle, so often seen only from a distance, and shown the secret world that exists between them. Aerial work can sometimes be dehumanising, but here we are fully aware of all five performers as individuals, and we begin to see patterns and understand how they work together. Each section has a slightly different tone, the characters and their relationships shifting a little as the piece progresses. Harp and choir provide the subtle soundtrack and the work comes across as if being discovered for the first time, while the intimacy allows us to share both the effort and the pleasure of their skill. The equipment is mostly static, but towards the end, it’s almost as if they can’t resist a bit of swinging, but of course it’s not trapeze as we know it – as much about when they get off their apparatus as when then get on it. They end crammed together inside the glass box, and it we lose contact with their individuality as their bodies entangle into an anonymous muddle of limbs. The company are on a rather good National tour with this piece, so it was particularly pleasing to see it in the context of an event to encourage more booking of contemporary circus.

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