August 24, 2012
Contemporary circus show Knee Deep has an unusual start. It features one of the performers walking over rows of eggs (no doubt prompting lesser bloggists to insert some kind of gag about shelling out for tickets, but not I). It’s a motif that runs throughout the show from Australian company Casus; fragility and resilience, sometimes embodied by an egg, more often by the human body.
Take the performers themselves, none of whom are great in stature but whose bodies are capable of feats of astonishing strength. The one female member of the company, an elfin, tattooed blonde, often takes some of the traditionally male roles such as the base of the adagio pile whilst her male counterparts take on roles generally reserved for ladies – hula hooping and the like. The inversion of traditional circus gender roles makes for a unique and empowering display deserving of the countless 4 and 5 star reviews the show has been bestowed with.
Hand balance on canes and gravity-defying aerial work were performed with fluid and effortless grace, but a particular highlight came towards the end when the four performers formed a human ladder which they used to clamber up one another on to the trapeze. So as not to detract from the performance itself, the production has a stripped back approach - the costumes are simple in muted colours, the lighting stark and shadowy and the eclectic soundtrack ranging from minimal, glitchy electronica to melancholic solo cellos. To say the show veers on the serious side would be an understatement, performers remain mute throughout and go about their craft in a sober expressionless way but this only adds to the atmosphere of the show and allows the audience to hone in on the themes and symbolism on show.
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