Welcome to NoFit State Circus' Bianco, a show that will certainly keep you on your toes (and heels). It being an odd year (in the numerical sense), the Roundhouse's biennial CircusFest takes a rest until 2014. Not that the Roundhouse is steering clear of circus: this year has already seen two high-profile immersive events in January's smash hit Fuertzabruta and now NoFit Circus's Bianco.
There's no overarching theme à la Cirque du Soleil. This show is instead a collection of visual vignettes connected by the eponymous and nebulous concept of "white". Each episode generally concentrates on one aspect of circus skill for about ten minutes before moving onto another area.
There is no reserved seating, in fact no seating at all. Between the dozen or so set pieces, the audience is shunted around the Roundhouse’s central space as huge white metal frames are moved into new positions for the next act. Don’t worry too much about getting to the front: almost all of the action happens above eye level and, in some cases, directly above the audience.
The constant to-ing and fro-ing would be very annoying if not for two aspects separate from the dazzling physical feats. Watching the company combine to reorganise the environment is an eyeful in and of itself, while we can’t praise enough the band of multi-instrumentalists who provide a live audio backdrop to the evening’s proceedings, bringing forth a soundscape which crosses from the rhythms of the African plains to the prog-rock stylings of Pink Floyd.
The show struggles to build momentum in the first half, but stick with it. There is more than muscles and metal frames here and some sections have buckets of ambition and imagination. NoFit State Circus has managed to marry motion and music and concatenate many individual bursts of brilliance into a worthy though initially uneven whole.
Londonist attended on a press ticket provided by the Roundhouse. Photo credit: David Levene