Riverside Studios (Studio 2) Crisp Road W6 9RL To 22 June 2013.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Sun 6pm Mat Sat 5pm.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8237 1111.
Review; Timothy Ramsden 2 June.
Extraordinary physical feats.
It’s a mystery why this show is called Knee Deep (unless it’s a reference to a line in The Winter’s Tale; though the reason for that would be equally mysterious). No matter, given an hour watching and wondering at the physical skills of these performers.
You know nothing will go wrong. Though at the least dangerous moment it seems it might, three out of four hula-hoopers messing things up. It’s the simplest thing they do, and all contrived to let the hooping specialist amaze as his hoop seems suspended in mid-air, the hand propelling it seeming to be stroking a still object.
Yet there’s an undeniable tension, like walking on eggshells. Which they also do, opening with Emma Sergeant stepping across boxes of half-a-dozen at a time. That’s a mere prelude to later when two figures stand, one on the other’s shoulders, directly on a few dozen of some mother hen’s finest. Which themselves are placed atop a small table. Which, for good measure, perches on four wine bottles.
There are only three ways to work out the physics of it all, the forces and counterweights: a complex computer programme, hours of study, or instinct. And that’s before human expertise, strength and nerve come in. There’s only a certain amount to be done by trial and error, considering the impact of too much error on the human frame.
It’s not unusual for an acrobat to stand on another’s back; much more so for the lower of the two to move meanwhile from lying to kneeling or standing. Leapfrogging over standing people might not be that rare among the experts, but somersaulting between the legs of someone standing over a figure on the ground combines focus with length of leap.
Deeply impressive, especially given the varied, often calming music and focused lighting, making for a welcome lack of self-proclaiming razzmatazz. OK, some bits look like they might just be possible to other mortals. But these are not moves to try out at home. That way lie strained muscles or broken bones. Or, if not, an application to join this astonishing troupe.
Performers: Emma Serjeannt, Jesse Scott, Natano Fa’anana, Lachlan McAulay.