Beyond CircaWhen Circa rolls into town, I always look forward to my annual fix of exceptional Australian circus prowess, so it’s very handy that they’re at the London Wonderground this week and then over the river in St Bartholomew the Great next week. Beyond is a new piece created for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, performed in a spiegeltent, so it’s very interesting to see them in a more traditional setting. It’s almost a big top, which brings out a more overtly playful, circusy facade. But not far beneath is the company’s trademark sexual politics and their physical prowess, their slamming bodies and aggressive footwear; as ever, they challenge and redefine perceptions of what the body can do and traditional gender roles. It purports to examine ‘the animal within us’, and this isn’t quite followed though as a concept, but it hardly matters, as each as each new act enthrals and surprises, often with outsize bunny heads as a nod to the animal theme. There’s a witty acro trio performed to Frank Sinatra, some fine group work on the Chinese pole and cheeky fun with a tennis racket. And who ever thought that solving a Rubik’s Cube could be quite so genuinely thrilling? They’re all multi-skilled, but the highlight is a superb double trapeze act which is performed with breathy and breathtaking vigour and skill – the female base/catcher adds a further unexpected dimension, and it’s great to see some classic Circa moves performed with the genders reversed. As a show, it’s more in-yer-face and less intellectually demanding than some of their other work, but they have their own unique physical language and the execution is never anything less than brilliant. And I needed my fix badly; in the wet Olympic summer of 2012, my biggest disappointment was seeing the rain cancel both performances in what was to be Circa’s National Theatre debut. I look forward to seeing them in a very different spiritual setting next week…

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