Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Chapter 183: Compagnie XY: It's Not Yet Midnight

Photo credit: Jane Hobson

Compagnie XY is at The Roundhouse at the moment and their show It's not yet midnight... is not to be missed. The company was last here seven years ago, with their previous show "Le Grand C", and since then has grown and now comprises 22-strong (and fit!) French acrobats whose collective philosophy - "On my own I'm faster, together we go further" - underpins their core strength. There was a real sense that operating on such a large scale opens up physical language into all sorts of interesting articulations and possibilities and I love that solidarity which brings a positive, generous energy to a world that, quite frankly, is in dire need of it right now. It also makes for a visually striking spectacle.

I saw the show last night and found myself flanked by theatre critics. It was press night, after all. Dutifully getting out my notebook too, I jotted down a few points, barely legible in the light of day, but my pen kept dropping along with my jaw, and the black ink made more of a mark on my jeans than on the page. Leafing through the notes now, I smile to see "Bloody Hell!!!" somersaulting across the page, and it brings it all back: courageous, talented, surprising, totally mesmerising, you just never know what crazy thing is round the corner with these guys. Launching like rockets from a teeterboard onto the shoulders of another, flipping on a wooden square, held aloft by others, with such ease and grace you'd have thought it were a trampoline, head to head balancing on a human table, a clown of a pony-trot across the stage... I just kept wondering, whatever next?! 

There was a metropolis feel to the production both in terms of the neutral colours of the shirts, trousers, and odd pair of braces, and the architectures created by bodies in formations. A human tree falling timber into a sea of hands... and then rising up again. A roundhouse of 11 sets of performers two-high. Towers four-high showcasing the phenomenal strength and balance not just of XY but XX in the company too. The muted tones and minimal use of props also meant that attention was squarely focussed on the performers themselves. The lighting was simple - at one point the house lights were raised for an act as though turning the tables on the audience. The music was great: I enjoyed the strains of violin accompanying the tension, the uplifting lindy hop that got toes tapping, and the moments that required no soundscape at all other than the rhythm and beat of the bodies themselves.

The performers pushed themselves, and each other, to their limits, and beyond, which was thrilling to watch. Whether fighting, embracing, balancing, throwing or tumbling, with an accent (a sexy Gallic one at that!) on risk, they truly are ceroc 'n roll stars of circus, and infectious with it. So beg, borrow, steal, or, better yet, BUY A TICKET! They are here at The Roundhouse until 23 April (click here), catch them while you can. And then again. ENCORE! 

Film credit: Remy Archer for The Roundhouse (click here)

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