Theatre Review: Wunderkammer at the Barbican

Extraordinary acrobatics turns circus upside down at the Barbican.

This is no ordinary circus. Nor is it “ordinary” modern circus.

Performed by six breath taking performers from the company Circa, Wunderkammer creates a truly entertaining and enthralling one-and-a-quarter-hours of breathtaking physical achievement.

Anyone who has ever tried to climb a rope will know how much strength and effort is required to hold your own body weight. If you haven’t - try hanging from the door frame and you’ll quickly realise!

Bearing that in mind, the effortless strength, control and grace of the performers is all the more breathtaking.


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Outstanding moments were the opening hoop routine – a cross between a ballet and a magic act as the hoops seemed to pass through the performer’s body - and, later on, the solo rope act which defied gravity and logic.

The show melds expert circus skills with gently subversive humour and well considered music to produce a compelling theatrical experience and visual feast.

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Touches of burlesque and even sing-a-long are also thrown into the mix, so just when you think you know what to expect the tables are turned – striptease turns into dressing-up and acrobatics are performed in bright red super-high heels.

By placing circus skills in a theatre environment with carefully designed lighting and integrated music the audience focuses on the detail of the performance and lives each moment.

There’s no drum rolling or hype but audible gasps from a predominantly adult audience echoed around the auditorium throughout the show.

Circa is an Australian company here for a short period of time, but keep your eyes peeled for their next visit.

* Showing at the Barbican in Silk Street, EC2, until Sunday, July 24.

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