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A feature by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!








Rowan Heydon-White in Circa:Beyond

Photo by JMA Photography




London Wonderground

Until 23 June 2013
Then, 10 Month Residency in Berlin


Before careering off into the night to begin a 10 month residency in Berlin, Brisbane-based ensemble, Circa, is treating revellers at London’s premier riverside hot-spot to a sensational 16-night run. The Spiegeltent nestled behind the plastic purple eye-sore that is the Udderbelly venue always provides solace of sorts. If London Wonderground is a city garden for everyone to share, this is the grown-ups only section. If you suspend the waiting in bumpercars for shows to begin that is. The atmosphere inside is ominous and thrilling and revellers bustle into their ringside seats in anticipation of at least 70-minutes of riotous acrobatics and generally bizarre spectacle from this tight-knit faction.

Rowan Heydon-White is quite possibly both the strongest and most good-humoured woman I’ve ever seen. Daring and seemingly utterly at ease, she works ropes and silks during her aerial routines with unspeakable agility. Proving she has brain to match her brawn, at one stage she manages to solve a rubix cube with a gracious smile on her face while the rest of the ensemble hang off and, at times, literally walk all over her. In another routine with Skip Walker-Milne and a string-free racquet she makes a comic nuisance of female anatomy by painstakingly squashing her breasts through the racquet frame, having first summoned assistance from a helpful gent in the front row.

Costuming is second-to-none, particularly in the lingerie section. Add to this an underlying black and white theme and one red satin gown which wouldn’t be out of place in the bride of Beetlejuice and you have a dazzling arrangement. Props range from chairs to cylinders to huge furry animal heads, drawn on and off and thrown about between routines.  

Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Amanda Palmer covering Radiohead are the musical order of the evening in the main, with a cheeky sprinkling of Rage Against the Machine and a small side of Sinatra. Subtle but precise lighting enhances suspense and intrigue and a huge blue sheet drawn over the uplifted arms of the audience makes for a truly disorienting touch somewhere close to the midway point.

I’m not convinced if the line between human and beast is blurred as promised in the elaborate programme description for the show. However, the whole troupe with their acrobatic prowess, stomp hard on the line between human and super-human, which makes for an astonishing spectacle.

Watch videos of Circa:Beyond here:
Tickets: £15.50, £18.50, £19.50
Box office: 0844 545 8282 //
London Wonderground
Thames Walk, London, SE1 8XX
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