Chelsey Gillard attends a captivating performance by the Circa Contemporary Circus, Wunderkammer at Wales Millenium Centre.
Despite a somewhat slow and uninspiring (although technically skilful) opening section, Wunderkammer soon gloriously exploded into a high octane ensemble piece that proudly paraded the seven performer’s impressive variety of circus and acrobatic skills.
This contemporary Australian company want to break the mould and deliver a challenging and eye-
Wunderkammer meaning ‘cabinet of curiosities’ is a rag-
No doubt the highlight of Wunderkammer at the Wales Millenium Centre was Jared Dewey’s contortion routine on the trapeze. He twisted and bent his fragile, bird-
But don’t think this was a completely sober and serious affair: a reverse strip tease provided some intelligent comedy whilst with an athletic and boisterous display of clowning from the male cast fulfilled the need for some slapstick humour. Mostly the cast was silent but when they did speak it was worth the wait, a really clever spoof of dubbed martial arts films saw a male cast member providing the vocals whilst hiding behind a much smaller woman who mimed stylistically out of time.
The staging at the Wales Millenium Centre was wonderfully simple, a series of red and green neon poles created a boxing ring effect that framed the performers and showcased their talents rather than drawing undue attention to the technical details. This was certainly the right choice as every one of the acrobats had something special to offer and the lighting design by Jason Organ was used effectively to highlight their physical expertise. One particularly impressive display relied heavily on strength and trust between the ensemble. Rather than the usual trick of a woman standing cheerleader-
The contemporary circus seems to be very popular at the moment with various companies touring the world with their new take on the art form. I have to say that I have recently seen other companies who manage to create something a lot more cohesive and therefore more entertaining than Circa’s current show. Although not as successful as it could have been, Wunderkammer is still certainly worth watching even if just to witness the extreme lengths that the performers will push their bodies to. This will certainly be a company to keep an eye on as they are only going to get better as they continue to experiment and collaborate. Their brave approach to theatre-making will certainly pay off in a huge way in the near future.
For future performances by The Circa Contemporary Circus, click here.
Chelsey Gillard contributes regularly to the Wales Arts Review.