Circa: Beyond

Wed 30th July – Mon 25th August 2014


Victoria Ferguson

at 08:03 on 3rd Aug 2014



Backflips and somersaults at a wild pace and without pause – and that was only my heart rate as I watched Circa captivate a packed McEwan Hall with their most recent show, ‘Beyond’.

“There is a line between human and animal, between madness and sanity, between logic and dream.” ‘Beyond’ explores these boundaries through the media of physical theatre, acrobatics, music and dance. It is the stunning depiction of an inner circus; the interaction between bestiality and humanity, and how this fusion (or lack of) creates an identity.

To ask me to choose a moment that stands out above the rest is like Sophie’s Choice. But let me give you a sense of some of the ways in which these artists go beyond. A three-person-tall tower; a trapeze artist holding a man suspended above the stage by his mouth; a woman acting as a human climbing frame for her fellow performers’ acrobatics as she completes a Rubik’s cube – and finishes bang on her musical cue! I’ve done enough ballet to know that dancing en pointe is painful enough without a man sitting on your shoulders, but the laws of physics seem banished from the stage for this hour.

I only realised that I had been holding my breath when a man hurtled headfirst down a Chinese pole at breakneck speed, stopping himself inches from the stage using only his legs. I let out the exclamation that had been building in my chest for twenty minutes, but it was lost in the symphony of gasps that filled the cavernous hall. The audience’s reaction throughout was so perfect that it could have been scripted. Just as the performers executed every movement with unbelievable strength and precision, we all awwed and ahhed as one, completely hypnotised by the human fireworks display before us.

But the show isn’t simply a flashy medley of contortions and acrobatics for its own sake. ‘Beyond’ is profoundly moving. Each new scene represents the rediscovery of the beauty of the human condition in a new way. As an aerial silk performer twists effortlessly through the ribbons, seemingly as weightless as in water, it is as though the human body in all its complexity is being revealed for the first time.

The soundtrack is excellent, and the blocking on various levels creates a succession of stunning images that are illuminated and extinguished through carefully considered lighting choreography. Even the bows are more exciting than anything I have yet seen at the Fringe, so even if you arrive 50 minutes late, it is still worth buying a ticket.


Ellen Smyth

at 11:22 on 3rd Aug 2014



When the show starts with this message from a disembodied voice, you know that the next hour will be spent watching a magical performance unfold. And it really is truly magical. Beyond the red curtain lies a mystery. A blend of traditional and electronic music. Rabbit heads and a Rubik's cube. Shapes and shadows. Animal noises and ballet shoes. Performances which are tender and comical.

Exploring the potentials of human strength, incredible balance and curiosity, Beyond is a visual feast of Chinese pole and trapeze set to a fantastic sound track. Its playful approach to shapes and shadows is both subtle and breathtaking.

The show questions the limits of human strength, the sanity of the performers, even gravity itself. The audience had their breath held and their eyes wide open in awe and delight. This dynamic show is captivating and inspiring; the performers electric with energy and personality. Each performance carries a slightly different story line, each as terrifyingly daring and mesmerizing as the next. The chemistry between the performers is evident and over the course of the show each individual personality is revealed with all its quirks. It is a delight to watch; beautiful and funny.

I began to imagine that what I was watching was easy, since the performers achieve grace even in the midst of an extremely technical performance. They appear to have no fear. When you think you've grasped the feeling of the performance, they'll surprise you with something entirely and fantastically different.

In Istanbul last year, I saw a large crowd gather in a street ally, all mesmerized by the antics of two stray cats. They played and fought and tangled themselves in each other. They were howling and teasing, each using the other as a climbing frame. Passers-by were transfixed. I think if these cats could take to the stage they'd metamorphose into adults and appear somewhere in the Circa: Beyond. Curiouser and curiouser. You won't regret falling down this rabbit hole.



Shona Prosser; 4th Aug 2014; 01:19:40

Wow! Beyond belief and expectation.... this show introduced some amazing and very talented performers whose strength, flexiblity, grace and courage left me breathless. This should be on everyone's MUST see list!

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