Review: NoFit State Circus Lexicon at The Roundhouse
- Credit: David Levene
Joyful anarchy, circus skills and riotous humour combine to create a glorious night of misrule at the Chalk Farm arts venue
The latest show by Cardiff-based contemporary circus outfit NoFit State can best be summed up as joyful anarchy.
From the opening scene as they slouch at old-fashioned schooldesks, each performer assumes a clownish persona of a playful rule-breaking adolescent.
A wayward pupil in the stalls is hoisted into his seat and turns out to be the leader of the live band - then all hell breaks loose as the desks are suspended aloft and the miscreants hurl paper planes at each other.
In their Bovver boots and tartan pinafores, they try and test out their skills.
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We loved the biscuit-eating geeky unicyclist who swapped his bobble hat and specs for cool shades and a suit every time he nailed his increasingly difficult tricks.
There's excellent work too from a fire juggler who keeps setting himself alight, a slack-wire artist who contorts herself on what looks like a washing line aided only by an umbrella, and one performer's heart-in-mouth attempts to climb and twirl around a vertical pole.
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Between acts, the talented ensemble either pick up an instrument and join the band, or swarm on stage, tumbling and acrobatically throwing each other through the air, or circling on an array of crazy bicycles like a cartoonish version of Mad Max.
Director Firenza Guidi has a knack for image-making and carefully choreographs the set pieces to enhance each feat so they feel part of a glorious whole.
The scene where a trio of women attired in bridal garb do a nutty stomping dance before becoming part of a giant dangling mobile drenched in paper snow is just one of the moments that achieve her aim - as the title suggests - of finding a unique vocabulary and language of circus. Stirring live music, madcap acting, clownish humour, clever lighting and awe-inspiring skills create a heady, at times poetic, night of misrule.
At the end, my eight year old's face crumpled: "I don't want it to be over".