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Bianco: Here Be Dragons review at Winter Festival Big Top, London – ‘fun, festive circus’

August Dakteris in Bianco at Big Top, Southbank Centre, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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For its 30th anniversary, NoFit State Circus, completes the Bianco trilogy with Here Be Dragons. Director Firenza Guidi, who also devised the first two chapters, Time For Beauty and Turning Savage, has constructed a labyrinthine narrative exploring the meanings of community and the natural juxtapositions of life around us, the yin and yang of everyday life.

What actually shines through in this production is a spirit of fun and collaboration. The whoops and cheers from a pair of trapeze artists as they swing higher and higher shows a childlike excitement and Francois Bouvier on the tightrope can barely conceal the genuine thrill of his challenge. It takes a lot of work to make circus look easy but it takes a special mind-set to make it look this much fun.

Admittedly there are moments of introspection, buoyed up by David Murray’s blinding live band accompanying Bianco with a lively, eclectic score but it’s the set pieces, heavy on aerial acrobatics, that make this promenade production soar. The sense of community is compounded with an update on a bathing beauties sequence; a hula-hoop-off featuring the whole company and an illuminated trapeze act led by the talented Enni Lymi.

The finale draws together all the elements of Bianco’s ethos in one simple, rather beautiful scene.  Bare-chested Augusts Dakteris swims through the air on ropes above the audience, defying gravity and counterbalanced by his female shadow amid a flurry of falling snow. A simple yet stunning highpoint to this installation at the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival.

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Verdict
Fun festive fusion of classic circus skills and ensemble aerial acrobatics
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