The troupe received a standing ovation at The Layette after an hour of incredible physical theatre.
I’ll admit, this was outside my usual comfort zone, a bit like dance at times, like physical theatre, but I recognised the circus elements.
I found myself sitting next to a young man who would gasp loudly and mutter, remarking on just how impressive some apparently small move on the stage had been. It helped! I learned he was right. The Circa Contemporary Circus made it look easy… but this was not!
The Australia-based troupe starts writhing on the flower and getting up in a way that reminded me of a flower opening. It was artistic, and I wondered whether I knew what I had signed up for.
I didn’t, that was alright.
I quickly noticed that one of the performers was not leaving the stage like the others. She would return back towards the middle of the action, only to be edged off towards the outskirts by another at times, picked up, flipped, flopped or otherwise moved. In time, everyone was aware of this, and shortly afterwards, it was just her and one other on the stage for the first face-to-face scene.
Humans 2.0 then proceeds in various acts, each one a focus on certain performers or specific styles.
A circus might have someone fling themselves daringly from one tower to another without missing or falling short and landing unpleasantly with a flop on the hard ground. Circa: Humans 2.0 has the flings, but the towers are made from people.
I loved the equality of the costumes and roles. Time for tight shorts and see-through tops? Male and female bodies wore the same. Time to couple up, stand on shoulders and perform acrobatics from up on high? Sometimes it was women carrying men.
One of my favourite scenes began with one performer leaping from back to the back of the others. Wouldn’t that hurt? The one woman rolls over and catches our jumper on the flat of her stomach. That must hurt, surely? And then our strong-woman-catcher arches her back, balanced on her hands and feet, lifting her back into the air, bent over backwards and caught our jumper again, like that, on her stomach. How is that even possible? Imagine my surprise when a second person climbs on, and the acrobats build a tower from that arched human foundation!
Meanwhile, the music continues its dystopian clink-clank-clang of a background effect.
I’m glad I learned to pay attention. If I hadn’t had the advantage of sitting next to a broadcasting stranger who showed me just how impressive some of these techniques are, then I admit I might have sat through an hour of a two or three-star circus also run.
Circa: Humans 2.0 isn’t a circus also run; it’s an impressive series of skilful feats!