Review – No Show

****

No Show

Summerhall

Until 27th August (4:15pm)

No Show is a performance by an all female circus troupe consisting of performers Francesca Hyde, Kate McWilliam, Lisa Chudalla, Michelle Ross and Alice Gilmartin. As soon as you enter the black box space of Summerhall’s Old Lab it becomes clear that this show is far from average. There’s performance of course, but the usual signifiers of circus are missing. Where’s the glitter and plastered on smiles? Therein lies the beauty of No Show. The team systematically strip away elements, deconstructing what we understand to be circus performance. As Chudulla performs a stunning routine with a cyr wheel she alerts us to the dangers; the crushed fingers and worse if something was to go wrong. It doesn’t, because she’s incredibly strong. As the show goes on more performers reveal what it takes to get to their level of expertise, the training and the hours endured. It’s not enough to be an outstanding circus performer – you have to make it look effortless, to look pretty and above all to smile.

Some sections were overtly feminist in their outlook; Kate tells us how she has been restricted by what she can perform, and what are considered the appropriate manner for a female performer to express her art. Others struck the same chord in a different way. As soon as the performers spoke, I was struck by how rarely circus performers are given a voice. Gilmartin performed a wonderful section where she is restricted in her speech. We are so used to circus performers being portrayed as superhuman and infallible. This is a show with an excellent point to make, but that doesn’t make it any less technically impressive either; there are tumbles and balance, hoop and an amazing section where Hyde is suspended by her hair.

There is a real warmth to the show, but it’s between the performers themselves, not plastered on for the audience. After her tumbles McWilliam is permitted to catch her breath. It’s just a subtle shift but it’s brilliantly executed.

No Show combines world class performance and vital social commentary. There are just a few shows left at Edinburgh – grab those last few tickets whilst you can.

For tickets and further details click here.

Photograph: Chris Hoyle

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