I imagine there is more work for an acrobat these days, what with the rise of the talent show, the resurgence in variety: street dance and B-boy mashed up in an expression of urban style. It is that competitive show biz world, those brief bursts of physical artistry we marvel at for a few minutes on the small screen on a Saturday evening, which first come to mind in the show Kin, directed by Ben Duke and performed by Barely Methodical Troupe at Hull Truck end of May.
The show opens with the five boys preoccupied with a bit of rough and tumble, until their horseplay is stopped, by the appearance of the judge. Each retreats to a pedestal, posing as Greek statues complete with wreath, until called upon. One by one they share their particular talent, show off their strength, in order to prove their worth. It’s a story as old as time itself, faint heart never won fair maiden, neither will a misjudged leap, or clumsy pratfall in this updated mythology.
‘What are you afraid of? ‘
The strong narrative, that begins somewhere in the world of the tv talent studio, with the interminable buzzer to show disapproval, develops a pseudo scientific layer, she has a clipboard and is awarding marks, but on what criteria and what of the responses to her cold inquisition? She sits to one side of the stage taking a position of authority, directing the action, pulling the strings, controlling the players in the game. Then when courage or skill is shown, she literally – and metaphorically – stands on the boys, propelled forward only when one hurriedly moves ahead to allow for the next step. Such a powerful image of complete domination. When she is done she throws him aside, and in his eyes you sense the confusion and hurt and yet, she remains unimpressed. She is judge, jury, executioner all.
Kin is sexy, cool and modern, at times mesmerising, with precision choreography and breathless show-stopping moments. It speaks to the gladiatorial arena, I think of prize fighters, as two are paraded on the shoulders of the other four, to square up like champions borne into battle on shields.
Barely Methodical Troupe were heralded in The Stage as the newest and most dynamic circus ensemble in the UK today. The company throw themselves off the floor, turning and twisting, defying gravity in a way that has to be seen to be appreciated.
Out of many highlights, followed by the audience bursting into spontaneous applause, the glorious parody dance to Purple Rain in the perfect purple spotlight, made my heart leap. Despite the magnificent and seemingly impossible skill in the Cyr wheel – an outsized metal ring that allows the performer to carry out acrobatic tricks – or the leaps skyward from the teeter board – a sort of big seesaw – that rebellious glint and roguish comic charm, kept the joker in pole position for me throughout. We were like teens choosing a favourite boy band member. The eventual winner came as a surprise, I wondered whether the show allows for a different winner each time.
The young company were all supremely athletic, fine physical specimens all, lithe and gymnastic, without being overtly well-built. She in her halter neck outfit, an unearthly being, somersaulting through the air, maintaining all the grace and control her status in the drama demanded. They, a pack of excitable boys, at ease with each other, a band of brothers, who I suspect would much rather not, have had the distraction of this divisive figure, coming between them.
A well choreographed and seamless blend of acrobatic, circus skills and dance theatre makes Kin a wow show, that delivers on action, storytelling and emotion. A show that can be enjoyed by all the family – the mother sat behind me had brought her young son and they told me they’d both loved every minute.
I was enthralled by the power games going on throughout the piece, domination, subjugation: moments that can only work when one convinces the other to bend to their will. She controlled her charges, with a look, a command and they responded by offering more of themselves, pushing each other to the limit, all to win the prize: the hand of a very fit maiden.
Kin Performers: Jonathan Bendsten, Jean-Daniel Broussé, Beren D’Amico, Louis Gift, Nikki Rummer, Charlie Wheeller
KIN is produced by DREAM funded by Arts Council England with support from Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield, the National Centre for Circus Arts and the Roundhouse.
http://www.barelymethodical.com/shows/kin/ @BMTroupe #KIN