Lexicon-No Fit State Circus, Roundhouse

Review by Pearl Esfahani

Lexicon is an examination of the language of circus and an attempt to reconfigure this vocabulary within a contemporary world. I mainly watch theatre, and get a bit nervous with  circus sometimes as too often I’ve seen “story” jarringly forced upon it and performers speak that really needn’t. The evening has a soft open of feigned confusion as performers come in at all sides through the audience tooting brass instruments , arguing about absolutely nothing and my heart sinks.  However, once the ensemble come together and the show properly his its stride, my concerns are relieved and I get drawn in to the awe that circus can inspire. All of the performers are supremely skilled and seamlessly major and minor to support and highlight each other’s tricks whilst jumping in and out of the live band providing the soundtrack to the show. 

We’re taken ‘back to the drawing board’ as it were through a Victorian kitsch classroom, a motif that returns throughout the piece, although never fully completed – maybe a lesson that will keep on going? One of the admirable things about circus is how international the casts are, and it was a joy to see performers comfortable in their own tongues as well as bodies. English phrases slapped on for the sake of the audience isn’t necessary, and where the show really comes into its own is when voice, body, music and set all came together seamlessly. One performer with an accordion and guttural tones with ensemble singing in the background was a simple and powerful moment. Another highlight included Katleen Ravoet encircled by a fabric mesh  whilst creating astonishing shapes through hand balances which are distorted and enlarged through shadow on the screen around her. There is no need for traditional narrative, and moments of tying together visual, body in space, and sound to create powerful mood is more of what I want to see in this new vocabulary.

Swinging Trapeze and Head Rigger  – Lyndall Merry

Slack Rope  -Vilhelmiina Sinervo

Foot Juggling and Skipping Ropes  – Rosa-Maria Autio

Double Ropes and Risley  – Rosa-Marie Schmid

Base and Risley  – Nicoló Marzoli

Straps and Base  – Pablo Meneu

Fire Juggling  – Luke Hallgarten

Unicycle  – Sam Goodburn

Chinese Pole  – Luca Morrocchi

Walking Globe  – Davide Salodini

Handbalancing  – Katleen Ravoet

Prankster and Second Rigger  – Junior Barbosa

Prankster and Second Rigger  – Joachim Aussibal

Ensemble Performer  – Cecilia Zucchetti

Tightrope and Musician  – Ellis Grover


 Lisa Savini

Dylan Williams

Pauline Fremeau  

No Fit State is on until 18 January 2020 https://www.roundhouse.org.uk/whats-on/2020/lexicon/

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