Edinburgh Theatre

The year 2015-2016 was a big year for me, coming to Edinburgh after working in the Middle East for several years. One of the first things I did was visit the Festival Theatre, where I fell in love with modern dance (I hate dancing, so don’t switch off if you are also not a dancer). Although I intend to continue visiting the Festival, I will also be trying out other venues, for modern dance, drama, ballet and opera.

Cirkopolis (Circus, Edinburgh Festival)

Cirkopolis

Cirkopolis (Circus, Edinburgh Festival) 21.08.17

Cirkopolis does not lack ambition. Filling a conference room on a daily basis in Edinburgh, drawing audiences with its eye-catching promotion of themes of dystopia set to acrobatics, it offers a conceptually alluring promise of extreme highs (literally) and a brutalist background of 1920s German sci-fi. For Cirkopolis is based on Fritz Lang's famous Metropolis, that ancient movie whose images can be seen in Gucci adverts and Queen's video for Radio Gaga, a movie in short whose iconography subsumes its actual story, and whose legacy is really one of a particular kind of style.

Such a legacy of imagery over content continues with Cirkopolis, even if the industrial-scale sets – established cleverly by projection – capture something of the original movie's mood. At the beginning we do get a glimpse of a story, too. An ungainly hero sits at a desk, dealing with mountains of admin, while all around him men and women in gestapo-like raincoats and fedoras buzz back and forth; it's a world indeed that encapsulates Kafka, Brave New World, 1984 and Brazil, as well as so many other dystopian visions of a future where people are dehumanized and dwarfed by bureaucracy. Early on, a lady in red emerges from the gloom and dances balletically within and without a giant silver hoop. The hero and the heroin are established, a romance set up and now all we need is the simplest thread of a story that has them escaping the machinery around them.

Except, that nothing comes from these early moments. The clown-like hero and the woman in red join other routines. The routines are spectacular, one involving giant silver wheels, another involving a circus tent pole and gravity-defying climbing and falling. We get juggling, and one juggler in particular whose speed and coordination leave the audience in rapture. The story, though, has gently evaporated, iconic images from the original movie, such as the android that comes alive, do not feature. Even the clown-like gestapo agents from the beginning become simply part of the acrobatics, their early, sinister body language abandoned along with the raincoats and hats.

The acrobatics, I want to stress, are hugely impressive; I was applauding throughout, as were so many. These acrobats too, are stunning to watch even when stationary, largely a collection of alpha males and females, combining catwalk good looks with athletic physicality, showmen and show-women with glamour and confidence and individuality.

Yet, when it ended, I wondered what had become of the story. Had that been maintained, somehow, with the lightest of touches, I would have loved this circus performance for more than just the acrobatics. In the end, what you get is circus with a dystopian aesthetic, without the dystopia. With a bit more drama, it would have been perfect.
Eve (Theatre, Edinburgh Festival) 27.08.17
Skin (Dance, Edinburgh Festival)
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Captcha Image

My Latest Posts

Joker
October 05, 2019

Joker

October 05, 2019

Joker

Joker The trailer did its work, flashing images of anomie and fury perfectly pitched for these unstable times of precarious working conditions, grievance and institutional indifference. For these same reasons, Joker , directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist, has attracted pre-release criticisms like few other recen...
September 29, 2019

Resisting Whiteness event 2019

Resisting Whiteness one-day event, Edinburgh Returning for the second consecutive year, Resisting Whiteness came yesterday to the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh, providing an intense and inspiring series of panels, as well as a wonderful spoken word section, and a final segment based around the documentary short Invisible by internationally-acclaim...
August 21, 2019

Hearty by Emma Frankland

Hearty by Emma Frankland Raw and dripping with punk aesthetic, this one-woman-show's one-woman emerges in ripped tights and a T-shirt that paraphrases loudly the words of anti-trans theorist Germaine Greer: Lop Your Dick Off. My first impression of Emma Frankland is edgily uncertain and in awe, her Lady-Gaga-looks combined with Heath Ledger's mesme...
August 21, 2019

Pronoun, Pass, & Amnesty International

Transgender drama: Pronoun To be clear at the outset, this was the production of a youth theatre group, not a highly resourced team of experienced, professional career actors – although some of the performances left a powerful impression, and the show as a whole achieved some remarkable moments. Pronoun , written by Evan Placey, follows the transit...
August 13, 2019

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem

Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem It starts with a heartbeat, the dancer-directors Lizzie and Ayden in slow-motion entry, setting the scene of a nightclub featuring two young transgender bodies who are in fact multiple. Sound Cistem is theatrical dance set to a series of pulsing, dance-floor rhythms and the voices of several trans interviewees projec...
August 04, 2019

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles

Drone by Harry Josephine Giles The blurring of human and machine reiterates here in a comedically surreal, startling performance by the performance poet Harry Josephine Giles. Drawing on visual and aural effects, Giles presents the disturbingly evocative middle-class arc of the life of an electronic, military drone. With Giles as both narrator and ...
August 03, 2019

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza

Burgerz by Travis Alabanza Playing currently at the Traverse Theatre is Travis Alabanza's poignant and comic one-person show, a thought-provoking meditation created out of a jarring personal experience. Back in 2016, Alabanza, a non-binary person of colour, was abused in a London street, with a burger thrown at them by a stranger. The show's series...
August 03, 2019

While transphobes get more hateful, I become more freckly

While transphobes got more hateful, I became more freckly Written weeks after the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International There's nothing good to say, even the films I enjoyed watching this past week, Midsommar and Apollo 11 , I've lost the Sunday will to write. Perhaps Brexit Britain will become like the village cult in Midsommar , bu...
June 09, 2019

Dark Phoenix, John Wick 3, Godzilla: my reflections

Three fantasy movies within three days: X Men: Dark Phoenix; John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lacanian feminist Kaja Silverman says about cinema, we go because we need the affirmation, to see the things we hope to see and fail to see in the real world. In Lacanian-speak, Silverman says we go because 'the desire ...