Jamie Tabberer

Cirkus Cirkör Undermän

at CircusFest 2012, Camden Roundhouse

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, that is a beary-looking man holding another beary-looking man in the air. While another beary-looking man looks on intensely. The fact they're all wearing adorable matching lumberjack-shirts is just a happy bonus.

You simply have to see this show: the jewel in the crown of Camden Roundhouse's annual CircusFest. It's the stuff dreams are made of. Dreams from the filthiest and naughtiest depths of your mucky pup imaginations, that is. What we have here is over an hour of hilariously garish homoerotic man-on-man interplay, between four fit Finnish circus performers-cum-musicians...of the heterosexual persuasion. We feigned annoyance at the straight people in the audience for finding the gay flirtation motif so hilarious; in truth we were too mesmerised by the guys to care.

It's a show full of twists and turns. They're throwing each other around one minute and jamming on cellos, accordions and harmonicas the next. Then they punctuate the whole shebang with shy little monologues in broken English in which they talk feelings with equally heavy coats of irony and profundity.

Their pain, their happiness and everything in between is represented – central to the narrative bone structure are tales of relationship break ups that proved catalytic to the creation of the show. More importantly, it's the enduring friendships between the guys that's communicated loudest, albeit through movement, dance even, rather than dialogue. We dare you not to fall in love. Or at least lust...if you reeeeeally can't get past the bromancey and very physical man-love, well, we won't hold it against you. You're only human. But if you can, there is so much more to Cirkus Cirkör Undermän to enjoy than just a spot of voyeurism.

In terms of what *actually* happens on stage, the show verges on simplistic, with the quality of the circus tricks on display varying greatly. Some are yawn-inducing – especially the ones involving a Rubik's Cube. The juggling, meanwhile, is impressive but uninspired. The acrobatics, however, are utterly thrilling. Interestingly, these guys epitomise grace and elegance despite their stocky, 14-stone statures (*pauses for thought*), and each wave of tightly choreographed interaction illustrates the implicit trust between them; a running theme throughout the evening.

They all struggle to disguise their depleting energy levels despite the physically demanding duties being shared equally (often only one of them takes to the stage while the rest hang back and create charming, gently acoustic soundtracks). They frequently catch their collective breath with long periods of silence and inactivity: although clearly necessary and perhaps contributing to the show's sense of intimacy and calm, you may still find your concentration levels waning. If this modest team of four were expanded on, the action might prove more constant and consistent; then again, the chemistry between them as they are is so dynamic and gorgeously, wonderfully warm that any meddling could prove misguided.

See it twice.


Until Saturday 14 April, 8pm.
Camden Roundhouse,

For tickets, click here.

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