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Sonics in Toren

Sonics in Toren, circus at the Gilded Balloon Sonics in Toren, circus at the Gilded Balloon

So much contemporary circus work these days involves the stripping away of the glitz, an exploration of the fragility and vulnerability of the body as much as its strength and capacity for spectacle. Not so this new show from Italian circus troupe Sonics. This is traditional mainstream circus, often dazzling – they’re all incredibly skilled performers – but also oddly remote. While many new circus companies seek to humanise their performers, here they’re decked out like aliens, in glossy unitards and illusion netting, glossy abdominal muscles frequently on display.

There’s the thinnest skin of a plot. The show opens with one of their number seated on a throne, his dreams apparently manifesting in the form of aerial work and a weird routine with gym balls, all set to a soundtrack of soft rock and classical music.

There are some impressive moments here – mostly when they’re not fiddling with cumbersome props, with various rings and harnesses. There are some powerful lifts and balances, some graceful silk work, but none of it is particularly audacious. They’re a very capable company but this is straight-down-the-line stuff, not a show which sets out to challenge its audience or subvert expectations – there’s little here you won’t have seen before, many times.

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Technically proficient but traditional and stolid circus show