Review – Bromance – Barely Methodical Troupe at Udderbelly

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Summer is rolling on, and the circus acts keep rolling into the Southbank. With two venues to fill – the Spiegeltent (for the “Wunderground”) and the Udderbelly (the giant purple cow) – that means there is a lot happening and it’s a bit hard to keep track. The latest arrival is the Barely Methodical Troupe, a group of three men, performing their one hour act “Bromance.” With a title like that, I was feeling quite sensitized to the “man on man” possibility it all presented – and it was a little edgy for me to watch them play with each other in a way much more familiar than you usually see in physical performance groups. They tickled each other, they tweaked nipples, they sniffed each other’s armpits. I was cringing a bit – what the hell was going on? Was this actually just man on man interaction?

Interestingly, throughout the performance, although there was physical stuff going on, what it felt like you were watching was the evolution of friendships/relationships. The guys seemed to be fighting to be popular with each other (and to a lesser extent, with the audience), and kept up a level of “who’s in/who’s out” that I, with my outsider childhood, found painful to watch. At the same time they were also doing lots of great tumbling, as well as balancing, and (finally) some very odd stuff with a giant hula hoop that was thoroughly mesmerizing; much of it was done to music which had lyrics that made what was going on rather poignant.

Altogether, it was less of an “Op La!” circus of stunts and more of an hour of emotional journey-ing along with the guys as they did their tricks and interacted; somehow managing to balance the thin line between performers and actual people with feelings. It may have all still have come out of the same can of actor-ing, but, still, I found it a most engaging hour of emotional acrobatics.

(This review is for a performance that took place on June 30th, 2015. It continues through July 19th.)

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