Chelsey Gillard reviews Wear it Like a Crown, an imaginative exploration of the brain.
‘An opportunity is a risk and a risk is an opportunity,’ this is the mantra for the six weird and wonderful characters that explore the human brain in Wear it Like a Crown. In popular psychology the left cerebral hemisphere is believed to control everyday activities and provide logic whereas the right side is more creative, wild and risk-taking. Cirkus Cirkör explore what happens when the right side becomes dominant over the left; can there be logic in apparent disorder? Is there rational thought behind our impulses and desires? Is up always up
This exploration of the brain is the company’s concluding production in a trilogy that explores the human body through circus performance. The first, 99% Unknown, adventured through the cells and neurons whilst the second production, Inside Out, took a tour of the heart. The finale Wear it Like a Crown runs riot in the brain and encourages us to find our fears, flaws and dreams, polish them into diamonds and wear them with pride as a crown.
The title comes from a song by Norweigian Rebekka Karijord on her album The Noble Art of Letting Go. She also composed much of the haunting music for the show that sets a melancholy and meditative atmosphere that is beautifully contradicted by the playfulness of the quirky characters.
Before the show had even begun clever (if somewhat gruesome) animation projections warned us to turn off our phones and cameras to ensure we didn’t distract the performers and cause them to met a premature and bloody end. Unfortunately the projection screen wasn’t used to such effect throughout the rest of the performance. Stunningly shot sequences of each of the characters played throughout but didn’t really add much to the brain narrative or the atmosphere, despite their beauty. Possibly due to first night teething problems the technical side wasn’t brilliant overall. There was very little spoken word in the performance but the little there was, was often lost due to microphone issues. Really the only negative in an otherwise brilliantly crafted show.
The nervous ringmaster, Wizard of Wonder (Henrik Agger) shyly introduces the ideas behind the chaos from his red sofa that beautifully matches his suit. He just manages to keep a little bit of order whilst clowning around on the raised platform in the middle of the stage. Around this raised platform a door on wheels allows the other characters into the performance space each to amaze us with their unique talents.
Shy and delicate, Miraculous and Supernatural (Louise Bjurholm) was the most reserved of the wacky inhabitants of this weird world. Although reluctant to take risks her curiosity gets the better of her as she bent her body into mindboggling shapes and enchanted the whole audience on the aerial hoop.
In complete contrast to her was Mistress of Mayhem (Anna Lagerkvist) who took all challenges head on, literally plunging to the floor head first from the top of a giant pole. Daring and unpredictable Mayhem bought an element of pure, unruly energy that needed to be tamed and conquered to gain new thrills.
Not one to be outdone, Nerves of Steel (Jesper Nikoajeff) communicated through objects with sharp edges. Nothing couldn’t be juggled; knives, chairs and even chainsaws. Not only did he perform the old favourite ‘Wheel of Death’ where he threw knives at an audience member attached to a spinning wheel, but he was also willing to walk barefoot on glass and have knives drop from the ceiling towards his own head, without flinching once.
Undoubtedly the show-
Cirkus Cirkör have undoubtedly taken a risk themselves and in doing so they have found the future of circus performance. Productions like this deserve sell out audiences. They capture the imagination, inspire with their physical control and delve deep into human emotion, whilst always maintaining humour and entertainment. This was not just a series of talented performers showing off their unique skills, it was a cohesive whole with a narrative and a purpose.
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