Posts Tagged ‘Udderbelly’

Review – Bromance – Barely Methodical Troupe at Udderbelly

July 2, 2015

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.)

Review – A Simple Space – Gravity & Other Myths at Udderbelly, Southbank

April 27, 2015

As well as loving theater, I enjoy movement performances – dance, circus, cabaret, all of it is fun for me. And it’s not in short supply in London at all, especially with venues like Udderbelly on the Southbank, which ups the ante with its two-shows-in-one-night programming. This meant that a trip to see a show by “Gravity and Other Myths” was a no brainer: it was both short and eminently affordable (especially since I had comps). I hadn’t seen their performance last year but thought I’d do my best to play catch up – not to mention the phrase “hottest young circus ensembles” had an enticements all of its own.

Gravity and Other Myths is (as near as I can tell) six men and one woman, with one of the men being smaller and thus capable of doing more of the “top of the pyramid” balancing stunts than the other men. (Per the press release it appears there is a second woman in the group – but she did not perform the night I attended.) You’d wonder just what you could do with a balancing act that could possibly extend the length of the show to an hour, but G&OM found lots of variety, and had the whole evening moving along at a crackling pace. At times the focus was on astounding us (as when the woman walked across the heads of various of the men, barefoot yet somehow getting a grip on their skulls, then dashing down their bodies and back up again); at other times, we were invited to laugh (a balloon animal group squeeze; the human beat box); and then again they had a series of competitions, starting easily enough with a rope skipping competition in which the loser was required to remove an article of clothing (yes this included the skivvies). Things got more intense, though, with a back flip competition, as the losers looked to me in danger of actually hurting themselves rather a lot when they failed to land on their feet; and a competition for standing on one foot while the audience threw balls at the acrobats left me feeling a bit perturbed when I realized the balls had been hitting hard enough to leave welts on the winner. This was fun? It seemed mean.

Overall, I found this a fun night, although it left me wincing more than once. I do worry about the long term physical health of these folks – some of the back movements looked to me designed to cause injury – and I hope they are careful with themselves.

(This review is for a performance that took place on Wednesday, April 22nd 2015. It continues through May 24th.)