London Mime Festival, Ockham’s Razor at Shoreditch Town Hall

Ockham's Razor This Time at Shoreditch Town Hall as part of the London Mime Festival

Ockham's Razor This Time at Shoreditch Town Hall as part of the London Mime Festival - Credit: Archant

Aerial theatre company creates an acclaimed inter-generational circus show that explores complex human relationships with performers ranging from age 13-60

When Ockham's Razor decided to create an inter-generational circus show, colleagues were sceptical that they would find a suitable cast.

"People said 'you'll never find an older and younger performer able to carry it off'," says Charlotte Mooney, joint artistic director of the aerial theatre company with husband Alex Harvey.

"But we started holding auditions and it was amazing how many incredible aerialists in their 60s are still performing. We were spoilt for choice."

Co-devised by a four-strong cast that includes 40-year-old Mooney and Harvey, a 13-year-old and a 60-year-old, This Time premiered last May and recieved rave reviews at the Edinburgh Festival.

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Featuring a combination of physical theatre, aerial work and personal autobiographical stories, it plays at Shoreditch Town Hall as part of the London International Mime Festival

"Our starting point was to make a show with different ages and generations," says Mooney.

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"Inter-generational work is common in traditional circus where whole families perform, but it's uncommon in contemporary circus where you tend to see shows with people in their 20s and 30s.

"Different ages bring a different body, a different physicality and performance quality."

Mooney and Harvey had just become parents when they decided to explore the complex dynamics between families and generations.

"Having our daughter radically changed our perception of time, memory and relationship to our own childhood and our own parents," she adds.

There were also interesting resonances with the wider political sphere, including the EU referendum which saw widely different voting patterns across the generations.

"Our eyes were opened politically to how marginalised old people often are in society. There is a removing of agency and power which is especially interesting at a time when there is a strong political voice coming from young people and a dynamic around Brexit and climate change. It feels there's a contractural break between the generations seeping in. Rather than having something to offer each other they are at war with each other."

Their 60-year-old performer Lee Carter has no background in circus but had trained in clowning and physical theatre and taught yoga for 20 years.

"She is very physically able and had an extraordinary performance quality on stage. We just knew she was right. We trained her in circus and she picked it up astonishingly quickly."

13 year old Faith Fahy had done some circus training at the National Centre for Circus Arts in Hoxton but was also "physically adept at swimming trampolining, gymnastics and climbing".

"Although they are new to it they bring a movement quality to it, it takes increcible technical skill to make things like climbing over each other look natural."

Mooney praises the working environment of a mixed age group who bring different energies, perspectives and personal autobiographical stories to weave between the movement sections.

"It was a revelation, the most fun we've had devising a show, people tend to socialise and work in their own age group and that can be competitive but this was so cooperative."

The theme that emerged most strongly was "the expectation of how your life will go and how things turning out quite differently, then how you deal with that."

Founded in 2004, Ockham's Razor combine circus and visual theatre often using custom made piece of aerial equipment and creating stories from the "vulnerability, trust and reliance that exist between people in the air".

Mooney adds that the language of circus; holding, supporting, tussling, pulling away, is uniquely appropriate to explore relationships. Instead of the circus performer as superhuman, their characters are all too human and relatable.

"Feelings that are often ignored or have tension within them can be shown physically and not diminished in a thrilling, exciting and moving way that resonates on complicated emotional levels."

Ockham's Razor's This Time runs at Shoreditch Town Hall from January 8-19 as part of the 44th International London Mime Festival.

It runs Jan 8 to February 2 at various venues including Jackson's Lane, Wilton's Music Hall, The Puppet Barge, Lilian Baylis Studio and features companies from 10 countries using clowning, physical theatre, dance and circus.

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