Wow. Barely Methodical Troupe’s follow up to its debut show, Bromance – premiering at the Roundhouse as part of CircusFest – vaults the ‘difficult second album’ issue with ease. Kin is a beautiful, sad, funny and complicated thing.
Everything is bigger this time around – not least the company itself, with Jonathan Bendsten, Jean Brousse and Nikki Rummer joining founding members (and National Centre for Circus Arts graduates) Beren D’Amico, Louis Gift and Charlie Wheeller.
Where Bromance explored male friendship, Kin uses this expanded ensemble to broaden the canvas. The production – vividly directed by Ben Duke, who also devised it with the company – uses circus as a powerfully effective vehicle to convey how it feels to jostle for attention, camaraderie and affection.
Nikki Rummer, armed with a clipboard and a buzzer, puts the men through a series of tests. From the five’s hilariously awkward Greek statue poses, to answers stuttered into a dangling microphone, there’s some deftly comic play with masculinity.
And from this pissing around, Kin blossoms into something visually arresting and emotionally vast. There’s no grandstanding without a payoff here. From Wheeller’s Cyr skills to some stunning ensemble acrobatics, it becomes a nimble parable for all the things we do in the face of loneliness.
This is circus at its most exciting, with its traditions liberated into a pulse-racing metaphor for how people relate. The confidence and creativity in Kin – the sense of originality driving everything – is exhilarating. Barely Methodical Troupe feel like the future.