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Throwback review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘spirited circus’

Throwback. Photo: David P Scott

There’s a lot of eloquent, expressive circus around at the moment: body-poems. Silver Lining’s production has its moments of poetry and poignancy too, but it’s also full of youthful energy and verve – circus with a smile on its face. Throwback is a confessional, jokey show about memory, and, in particular, the songs, sounds, and even the scents that make us remember.

It opens with a joyful dance number combing the steps to a medley of pop hits and ending with a lift and twist that is straight out of Dirty Dancing. A series of solo routines follow, including one glorious sequence in which Niamh O’Reilly sings beautifully while hand-balancing. Ulrike Storch performs a similarly impressive routine in which she juggles objects with her feet.

The show has changed quite substantially since it was performed at Jackson’s Lane last year. Company founders Tom Ball and O’Reilly remain, as does LJ Kalyn Marles, but the rest of the crew is new. Throwback might be less clean in its aesthetic than some contemporary circus, and a couple of the routines wavered a bit when I saw it – hula hoops go uncaught, a few lifts feel a little wobbly – but it’s a hugely appealing piece, funny and warm, with a surprising amount of emotional heft.

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Spirited, uplifting, and often quite personal circus from a talented young company