Next time you accidentally squash an egg between your fingers, spare a thought for the performers in Casus. They’ve perfected the art of standing on an entire box of them, with ne’er a cracked shell.
The egg theme runs throughout Knee Deep, the debut show from this Australian circus troupe. On the one hand, it shows just how drilled their movements are, that they can jump, climb and balance without dropping one. But it also serves as a metaphor for the fragility of the human body. Should most of us attempt what the Casus crew can do, we’d end up in traction for a year.
At first, they use each other like playground apparatus. Bodies blend together as they find different ways to circumnavigate the person next to them. In one swift move, a performer leaps on to another’s head – with no quivering from either party. Then the tools of their trade come out, with the heavily-tattooed Samoan, Natano Fa’anana bringing a powerful grace to the silks. Champagne glasses are used to balance on and yet more eggs appear.
All of which is very impressive, but for me, the final routine on the trapeze was pure gold. Beautiful music, precision movement, and a brute strength that is somehow rendered delicate in its execution.
It is this strong-yet-nimble quality that typifies Casus. That, and the company’s approach to gender equality. In most circus troupes, it’s usually the female who is being lifted – not here. Emma Serjeant has a hidden strength totally belied by her small physique.
At one point she has three men hanging from her; another time a man stands on her prone back, as she raises herself up on to her knees, in a move that makes my spine hurt just looking at it.
There’s not a huge amount here that hasn’t been seen before, although Serjeant’s contribution feels new, but the sheer skill on display, and visual poetry created in the closing moments makes Knee Deep well worth checking out.
Rating: * * * *
Until 27 August. Today 7:35pm.