Flown, an aerial circus show performed by musical acrobatic group Pirates of the Carabina, is certainly unexpected. When we first get to the Udderbelly tent, the performers are already on stage. At least, we think they are performers. There’s a couple distractedly dancing together, a sultry-voiced girl vaguely singing instructions to the crowd (“nooo flash cameraaas..”) and there’s somebody absent-mindedly doing handstands behind that big pole at the back.
There is a vagueness present in nearly all non-physical elements of the show. When the performers introduce themselves, the dialogue is distracted and awkward. At first this is disconcerting; but it soon becomes clear that, as should be expected of a circus act, everything is very carefully crafted.
What might be awkward on land is entirely beautiful in the air. The performers act out their nervous characters between performances, but are confident the moment they are swept up into the air. All the best bits of an aerial circus are here - tightrope walking, Chinese pole climbing, trapeze artistry - all masterfully done and performed in an incredibly natural, unaffected manner.
The music has no small part to play in helping this. Many of the artists play instruments in between their acts but Thomas Podgoretsky and Tia Kalmaru, the primary musicians, are especially brilliant. A beautiful ‘hovering’ Chinese pole climbing act is elevated to mesmering levels by Kalmaru’s dreamy vocal accompaniment.
Flown is completely devoid of smoke and mirrors. The cast are undeniably talented, and their talent is made all the more pronounced through their rather bumbling characterisations of regular people. Regular people who can hang upside down from a thread by their thighs alone.
Flown runs until 22 June 2013 at Udderbelly Festival, Jubilee Gardens, off Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary review ticket.