Sunday, 30 April 2017

Chapter 184: Race Horse Company: Around

Photo: Eero Alava

Race Horse Company
is a Finnish circus troupe, currently on tour with their surreal smash hit Super Sunday which I saw last year at The Roundhouse as part of a Finnish showcase in London (see post Chapter 139 - click here). Recreating all the fun of the fair, with bodies and giant teddy bears launching into space, and the nerve-wrecking wheel of death, it was an adrenalin-pumping rollercoaster ride for the audience as much as the performers. So when I heard that the company was bringing Around, a show designed for children, to Jacksons Lane for its London debut, I couldn't wait to take mine along and share the experience. 

Photo: James Mulkeen
This time round the setting of the fair was swapped for a Big Top, complete with live band and animals. There were four performers in all, two musicians and two circus artists, though due to the variety of acts it felt like many more. On centre stage a monkey took the spotlight, strumming away on his guitar. From there things went bananas as the show followed the circus artists through a series of spectacles. A caravan of hobby horses brought a couple of acrobats in the ring, which had me laughing on a couple of counts. First in the way it was creatively done. And secondly because it reminded me that hobby horses across the Nordic countries are a bit of a thing right now, reading just the week before about the bona fide Hobby Horse Championships hosted in Helsinki this year (Race Horse Company, hello?!).

Photo: James Mulkeen
From there we were treated to a zany and gentle whirligig of incredible skill, mixed with a bonkers humour, that kept us utterly captivated. Kalle Lehto is a great physical comedian, whether as the charismatic and engaging ringmaster or the crazy frog man plunging head first into all manner of chaos. Susanna Liinamaa's serpentine contortions snaking out of a chest mesmerised my youngest as much as the hula-hoops that she spun later "as fast as wheels on a motorway, Mum". I loved the magic of the bubbles Susanna sculpted within bubbles that spun like a merry-go-round inside. To have Sami Tammela and Ben Rogers' bespoke musical score the whole way through was a real treat, and on a quirky note I enjoyed the cameos involving a musical saw and a set of pan flutes. There was sick breakdancing, uber-smooth ball and club juggling flow and plenty of general monkeying "Around". All this in 45 minutes. The mind boggles, right? The show is a real gem and part of a whole new wave of Finnish contemporary circus over increasingly in the UK that is conceptually innovative and technically excellent. Here's to more. Kippis!

Super Sunday is on tour until 3 June with Crying Out Loud, moving on next week to Salford, Norwich, Coventry, Derby and Huddersfield: (click here).

Check out Candace Chan's interview for This is Cabaret with Kalle Lehto and Rauli Kosonen, founding members of Race Horse Company: (click here).

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