Travelling Light Circus
Greenwich and Docklands International Festival
28th June 2015 | 1.40pm | Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, SE10
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.
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?
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.