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 This Side Up presents

Controlled Falling Project



E4 Udderbelly - Southbank Centre


2 - 10 June 2010









A review by Mary Couzens for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 Controlled Falling Project is Melbourne company This Side Up’s second major show.  A success at Edinburgh 2009, this production is as action-packed a circus hour as you’ll find, especially in a circus with only four performers, one of them effectively functioning as an off-beat ring-master of sorts.

Professor Archimedes (David Joseph) silently conducts an experiment testing the limits of human strength and agility. There is no speaking in this show, a wise move, as it allows for international appreciation. The only sound we hear, apart from an occasional ‘whoosh’ as the acrobats fly through the air during leaps or the light pad of their landing on carpet, are a recorded soundtrack, featuring vintage sounding announcements of the ‘ladies and gentlemen’ variety and the live drumming of the nutty professor, which adds to the spit and sawdust, live, make-shift feeling of the show. His willing demonstrators, James Brown, Christian Schooneveldt-Reid and Casey Douglas literally flip, leap, balance and grimace at his every suggestion, following each feat of strength and dexterity with individually executed, extremely graceful, slow motion falls, as easy to admire, for their marvellous control as they are for their balletic climaxes. Though obviously meticulously rehearsed to the point of seeming spontaneous, the whole thing has the impromptu feel of musicians at a jam session.

But there are grittier, more pressing moments of brute strength in the show too, as the acrobats take turns on the teeterboard, with the rotational odd man out helping his fellows land safely, and in moments of gravity-defying hand-balancing, during which every vein on their muscular arms plays an active role. These are acrobats extraordinaire, in every sense of the word, exercising agility, grace, strength and good humour in equal measures. Who needs the proverbial strong man, when you’ve got three of them here, in the unpretentious guises of Brown, Schooneveldt-Reid and Douglas?

There are no illusions in this show, no vanishing cabinets in which to hide, no elaborate sets or spangled costumes to draw the eye, so all we’re left with is hands on, sheer determination and skill. It’s the ‘one for all, all for one’ comradeship of the three acrobats, working together, full throttle that gives the show it’s oomph, as a result, overall, the show rings all the right bells, with the rapt, responsive audience clapping after each and every feat of strength of which there are many.

David Joseph plays the geeky professor with laughable, hair-toniced intensity, drawing chuckles with his bow-tied, bespectacled blackboard equations and satisfied ‘ticks’ after every feat accomplished by his muscular acrobats. The fact that it seems as though any one of them could rip him apart and they so willingly obey him adds to the humour of the show’s kitschy B-movie premise, though some of the acrobat’s physical humour, such as the three guys walking closely together a la Three Amigos, hearkens back to the acts of 1920’s and ‘30’s comics. It all makes for a hearty gumbo of fun, thrills and chills. And after all that’s said and done, isn't that what circus is all about?



Box Office: 0844 8479910

2 Jun - 6 Jun
8 Jun - 10 Jun

14:30 - 15:30
19:00 - 20:00

E4 Udderbelly at Southbank Centre
13 May - 18 July 2010








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