Reframe The Streets

Show Detail & Review

Pendula Fantastica


Travelling Light Circus

Greenwich and Docklands International Festival

28th June 2015   |    1.40pm    |    Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, SE10

Experience this mesmerising display on a giant Newton’s Cradle, specially presented here in Greenwich, the home of time and space. This outdoor sculpture is integrated with performance to create a captivating combination of motion, sound, science and wonder.

Have your say below
Reframe The Streets invite you to join the discussion about this show by reading the review and response below and then heading down to the comments section and adding your own thoughts to the conversation…

The writers’ reviews and responses are written immediately after the shows and with a tight deadline. As such they may be raw, even though we will do our best to check for mistakes.

The Review

Xavier Leret

I have been walking past the Pendula for the last two days and have been drawn to studying the imposing sculpture of dormant silver balls. So I was very much looking forward to seeing how Travelling Light Circus would beguile me with its magic.

The show begins with two wizard-like characters wearing silver top hats and dapper waistcoats, each holding a silver ball to their chests, which they gently pulse to the sound of a beating heartbeat. No hint of the darkness of Gandalf and his cohorts here. The emphasis is on wonder. The way the two impresarios work the audience is lovely, inviting us to give our energy and “ding” to the music. A magic cane appears out of no-where and the balls suspended on strings are released to swing backwards and forwards to plink plonk musical randomness. The pace and rhythm of the balls morph between states. Sometimes they swing together and at other times they are in opposition – order and disorder beautifully embraced. The balls are then gathered up, the machine reset and the balls released again, although this time the music has returned to the heartbeat motif of the beginning. We are thanked for our energy and then as quickly as it started, it is finished.

The two performers are engaging and watchable. They clearly love the gravitational ballet and they did well to invite a substantial audience in but I couldn’t help but want more. Perhaps the two central characters could effect a change of dynamic. However, in a sense their presence undermines the central action of the ball play.

This is a piece, which I think would benefit from being free of the set timetable of the festival. The balls could be free to swing, luring passers by into their hypnotic dalliance. The balls themselves swing quite freely and it might do them good to dance to their own tune. Placing the piece within a set start and finish schedule invites us as an audience to desire a  more formal relationship with the work on stage. I want meaning and I believe this piece, as lovely as the balls are, is a little inconsequential for such formality.

The Response

Nick Cassenbaum

This is probably the most like a traditional street show that we have seen this weekend. There is an opening where they pull us in by getting us to make noise, then we see the trick and then they say goodbye.

I have to disagree with Xavier on the idea that it might be improved as a continuous piece, as the concept of it needing our magic is important. The key to any development I think are the showmen and what they could do to make it more of a ‘show’. They have got the costumes, they have got the faces, they have got the tricks. If all of this was combined with some further worked in barking, they could create a greater set up for the pendula. We could be more excited to see the movement and hear the accompanied sound and then revel in them once they arrived.

This set up would be even more effective if it came from clearer characters. The performers are already open and ready to engage with the audience and the surroundings. However if the performers spent some time creating a clearer relationship between each other, it would create another layer to the piece and help us to enjoy the spectacle more.

So, the technology in the piece is beautiful and I would just suggest working on the human aspect of the show.

What do you think? Could the show rely on the spectacle alone?

Have your say!

When adding your comments, please feel free to challenge the writers whilst considering what you liked about the shows and what you would like to see more of.


  1. Steven phillips says:

    I am: Audience Member
    I am a friend of the travelling light circus and have been waiting to see this for such a long time. I was amazed at the size of the structure and entranced with alternating patterns the cradle makes. I too think it could benefit from being made into a continuois flow with the pendulum being automatically reset (more for the audience to experience the pendulum properly due to the amount of people that were there was hard to get a good view at it). Not to take anything away from the performers who were amazing and added to it a lot. Overall was spectaculer big love and bless to the travelling light.

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