Lexicon Has High-Flying Hijinks Galore

Lexicon, The Roundhouse ★★★★☆

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 7 months ago

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Lexicon Has High-Flying Hijinks Galore Lexicon, The Roundhouse 4
Photo: David Levene

"We're the stories we've heard, we're the stories we'll tell." With these words begins Lexicon, the latest big top extravaganza from Cardiff-based NoFitState Circus produced in association with The Roundhouse.

No-one can accuse this lot of lacking in the high-flying high concept hijinks department, especially anyone who saw their awe-inspiring Bianco directed by Firenza Guidi. She excels again here with a show that is both ambitious and exhilarating.

A live band provide a range of aural backdrops ranging from filthy blues rock to torch songs as they complement the visual spectacles in front, above and beside the audience. Davide Salodini artfully plays the clarinet while walking around on a giant walking globe; Rosa-Maria Autio's foot-juggling is deft, speedy and fluent and Luke Hallgarten's creative approach to fire juggling sees him setting himself and his props alight as he casually tosses multiple lit batons around.

Photo: David Levene

As with Bianco, Guidi's masterstroke here is in her dazzling staging, which is both dynamic and inventive. The initial classroom scene sits performers at desks while overhead a funambulist intones the lesson of the day; minutes later, the desks are flying through the air and acrobats leap about the space. The staging never reaches the metaphorical or literal heights of Bianco (especially its memorable finale) but there is still plenty to gawp at here.

The high concept approach around stories is, for better or worse, parked early on with no further voiceover or obvious allusions later on. That's fine as Lexicon is more about numbers than words. A two-hour long show featuring an eight-strong live band backing a double-digit cast in London's number one circus venue is noteworthy in and of itself. The running time is a little too long and, from a theatrical perspective, more could have been done with the concept but this shouldn't take away from what is undoubtably one of the cultural highlights of the winter season.

Lexicon, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8E, £15-£55. Until 18 January

Last Updated 09 January 2020