Circus must be one of the most insane forms of theatre around: in which other artform do performers train for years so that they can publicly risk life and limb on a regular basis?
Returning to the London Wonderground's Spiegeltent for another three months after a year off, there's more to Limbo than mere feats of incredible physical skill to gawp at. From the off, the footstomping music and pumping dance routines happening feet away from the audience give this vaudeville something of a party atmosphere.
That guy in the white suit? That's bandleader Sxip Shirey, the coolest kid on this block; even his barnet has over a thousand Twitter followers. Wielding a harmonica in one hand and a red megaphone in the other, he propels this crazy cavalcade forward with a suave swagger that half of Hoxton would sell their gramophones for. When not hanging out with author Neil Gaiman, the New Yorker is a renowned composer in his own right and the quirky stylings of Limbo's soundtrack gives the show a welcome earthy spikiness compared to the increasingly over-produced goliaths being churned out by Cirque du Soleil.
Between and betwixt all this sonic loveliness, there are some breathtaking sights. Jonathan Nosan is one of the most obliging fellows around, being able to literally bend over backwards and touch the floor while standing. The hunkalicious Mikael Bres flits up, down and around the Chinese Pole in a routine both balletic and thrilling, and Coney Island's Heather Holliday swallows a lightsabre before sending magnificent plumes of fire upward into the Spiegeltent.
This is a much tighter show than last year and definitely worth a second go-around for those who saw it in 2013. The aerial finale still feels like an afterthought and the illusions are levered in to little overall purpose but, from soup to nuts, this latest version of Limbo remains a big top bonanza replete with more than a few surprises. If you're in the stalls, we recommend sitting about four rows back from the front to get the full effect of the latter half. And if you get there early, feel free to swan around the Spiegeltent's beer garden or sit in the static dodgems. It's all good.
Limbo continues at the London Wonderground's Spiegeltent until 17 August. More information can be found at the London Wonderground's official site. Londonist attended this show on a ticket provided by Cornershop PR.
Image (c) Lisa Thomson