Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Chapter 188: Hikapee Theatre's HOME at the Wandsworth Arts Fringe

When does a house become a home? That was the question that not-for-profit circus theatre company Hikapee were exploring this weekend as part of the mini two day festival called  Hidden Heathbrook in Heathbrook Park, part of the wider two week Wandsworth Arts Fringe. The Fringe shines the spotlight on my neck of the woods but it had pretty much passed me by this year as, somewhat ironically, all my energy over the past fortnight has been going into readying our own house to go on the market this week. 

The kids were super excited to see  Hikapee Theatre's Bryony Livesey and Edd Casey again after last seeing them at Jacksons Lane for Moonfall (see post - click here), and because Bryony has taught my 8 year old aerial skills at Flying Fantastic

Heathbrook Park is a hidden gem. We had never been there before, despite only being 15 minutes down the road. Festival banners and bunting was out, the sun was shining and there was a glorious festival vibe. 

Pete from Pif-Paf Theatre in SEED
We arrived in time to catch some of Sheffield-based PifPaf Theatre's SEED, which was a lovely surprise. The tale of one man's fight to protect the trees, it is set in a ramshackle potting shed that is a wonder of creative imagineering, has live music and the most amazing puppets, and I cannot wait to see it in full at the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival when they return at the end of June. 

Talking of feats of engineering, we found Edel and Chris Wigan from Flying Fantastic with their girls in the family creation space making a flamingo out of cardboard boxes and sticky tape, and joined in to help with the Flying Fantastic Flaming Flamingo. So much fun. Mission accomplished we took our seats on the grass in front of a scaffolding skeleton of a house.  It was one of those sunshiney lazy days, and as I reclined on the grass, my five year old nestled on top of me, a guy with a continental accent next to me offered me the use of his backpack as a pillow, which I gratefully accepted. He reminded me of  the protagonist in Soho The Show (see previous post - click here) which was funny as along with Bryony, Edd and Rachel Entwistle, the cast of HOME included Rebecca Rennison, who starred in Soho, the run ending only the night before. 

HOME weaved acrobatics and aerial around the frame of  a house, set to an absolutely cracking soundtrack that gratifyingly tied in thematically. It was great fun, high energy, interactive and the physical comedy entertained as much as the stellar aerial skills, keeping the audience totally engaged from start to finish - no mean feat when outdoors with plenty of young children in the crowd!

The performance kicked of with The Drifters "Up on the roof", which reminded me of the book at bedtime I am reading with the kids, Katherine Rundell's "The Rooftoppers" where the girl finds an escape route on the rooftops of Paris with the help of a boy who walks a tightwire. Circus everywhere. Here though, up on the roof were a couple of Right Said Fred builders (Edd and Rachel) clambering all over the structure and taking time out to juggle a cuppa. An estate agent (Rebecca) turned up with a family moving in, Bryony in pigtails as the young girl which she channels so well (again, see Moonfall!), and the shenanigans began. There were great routines on Chinese pole, part of the side structure of the house, including a cheeky nod to the shirtless workman, and a rope rigged from the centre of the roof, along with all the parallel bars and a scaffolding plank that enabled all sorts of innovative aerial moves, including thrilling duo acrobatics that drew gasps from the crowd. My favourite part was watching all four performers suspended with bicycling legs set to a Paolo Nutini track - madcap, upbeat and funny. Gradually through team-work the walls went up, and the house was furnished with a working lampshade, a television set, and all the trimmings. Now it was home. 

HOME: "It's a place where people live"
HOME: "Best thing I have ever seen."

HOME was developed in conjunction with the homeless charity St Mungo's, taking in stories from the volunteers, who often have been or are homeless themselves, which informs the ethos of the piece. This became apparent after the performance as the house became an installation, the cast serving up homemade lemonade and biscuits to the children and encouraging them to reflect on what "home" means to them and write it up on the walls. Ah the kids loved that (as did the adults as well!) - the freedom to graffiti all over the place, how cool was that?! My 8 year old wanted to know what the prime minister was doing about homelessness (only ten more years til she gets the vote!), while her younger sister (aged 5) declared to Bryony that the best bit was "when the guy took his top off... that was really funny!" Don't know where she gets it from... As for me, the show, and its timing in our life right now, reinforced the fact that home is where my family is, wherever that may be.

As for the flamingo, well, we found him some temporary accommodation... 


  1. Hi Lucy,
    I write for Circus Talk and would like to contact you about an article idea. Can you email me at kimATcircustalkDOTcom. Hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Hi Kim,
      Thanks for the message, yes absolutely, will email you now!


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