Saturday, 29 July 2017

Chapter 207: A Postcard from Jacksons Lane

Photo credit: Kasitzjay (@kasitzjay on social media)

Back in London this week I have been making the most of Postcards Festival at Jacksons Lane, especially as come September we look set to start sailing round the world and I don't know when we will be back. I have seen so many amazing shows at Jacksons Lane over the past three years that have changed or broadened my perspective, met so many wonderful people and I am incredibly grateful to Artistic Director Ade Berry and his team. In many ways it has been a life-line for my own sanity and energy as a Mum of three doing my best. This week I have been able to sample some of the amazingly eclectic programme over three consecutive nights, and there has been something for the kids too.

Photo credit: Kasitzjay
On Wednesday night my son and I went along to see Simple Cypher's Kieran and Chris, and their friends, bring the house down with their blend of dance and circus schools. We went with a friend of his and his Dad, a self-taught fire-breathing juggler with a sharp eye for timing. The blend of the group's humour and easy-going nature translated into a chilled evening, but at the same time it was super high energy. An awesome DJ made for great vibes - and a superb breakdancing cameo in the encore at the end! - with his music framing sharp dance moves that had robotic elements, muscles popping in all directions, and hands twisting, slicing and weaving in and out. There was lots of fun with the juggling and the play in dynamics between Kieran and Chris. One of my favourite visuals was watching when all the cast held balls around Kieran and passed them round as though tossed in slow-mo.

I could watch the Cyr wheel forever too, mesmerised by the coin-spinning movements of the large heavy hoop of metal ("aka wheel of death Mum" whispered my son as it slammed on the floor at one point). I especially liked the foot hook moves, one outside and one inside the wheel, and the nonchalant one arm hangs. It was great to see National Circus graduates Josh and Tessa again. Last act I'd seen them Tessa had Josh on her shoulders while en pointe in ballet shoes. This time round there was more wicked acrobalance and gender inversions, and a fierce move that saw Josh lifting Tess single-handedly by the roof of her mouth. Respect all round! 

What is true love? How do you find it? How does it feel? How long does it last? The spotlight was on Sean Kempton on Thursday night, for answers in his solo show Stuff. I loved the show already last year (see post on Stuff - click here), and the way Sean weaves in prerecorded interviews exploring the subject with his (then) 6 year old daughter Chloe, Jessica Ladley who is in her 20s, and an octagenerian family friend. It was great to see Stuff home from home at Jacksons Lane, where it had originally started out life. I loved the magic of the props: a book of light, flashing phone, mischievous lamps, all illuminating. 

Stuff is a responsive, dynamic piece in which half the beauty is the way Sean brings the audience into play in a tapestry of connections. The show underlined for me was the notion of real love that can be tender, but can also be this incredibly raw, powerful, act of revolution that blows worlds apart and I think the anarchy of clowning makes such a great bedfellow in terms of conveying that. There was plenty of laughter as rules were broken, nowhere and no-one was safe in the audience. There moments of body-slamming, gut-wrenching brokenness. Sean's was a tour de force performance of unbridled energy and he had the whole tango of love, and a wonderful audience, at his fingertips. Genius clowning.

Then last night, Friday,  my daughter and I went to see juggling legends Bibi and Bichu's life-affirming Circus Abyssynia.  The premise has its origins in Gifford Circus' Moon Songs, which we saw together a couple of years ago, where two boys in Ethiopia dream of running off to an English Circus. Bibi and Bichu have expanded the concept and brought together an evening of vibrant, fearless and utterly astounding circus skills. 

The show started with a video came from Tweedy the clown as the Man in the Moon, and my daughter was delighted as the last time she had come to Jacksons Lane it was to see him in his solo show Lost Property. My 9YO was in awe (as was I!) to see children, Alemayehu (young Bichu) and Ezra (young Bibi), somersault onto an adult's shoulder in a three-high human tower, along with all manner of tumbling, acrobatics and juggling. We loved the serpentine contortionists, dizzying foot juggling and laughed at the classic clowning around.  It was a great evening soaking up the energy and joy of extraordinary talent, and the show-stopping group finale on Chinese pole raised the roof - catch them at Edinburgh Fringe! 

So now here I am back at Jacksons Lane, sitting in the auditorium for the tech run through for circus cabaret Shhh! tonight, which will be high-octane, no holds barred fun. It is a wonderful feeling for everyone to have a sold out house again this year.  The bar is open til 1am and in the festival spirit we will continue into the night celebrating the finale of three weeks of stellar shows and incredible artists. If you are coming tonight, say hi, and if not, watch this space...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.