Cirkus Cirkor: Limits review at Royal Festival Hall, London – ‘clever, comical and thoughtful work’
Current news is dominated by the plight of people forced to leave their home countries, to flee from war and abandon their lives. Yet often it is the borders they cross that become the focus.
These borders, both geographical and social, are the subject matter of Limits, by Scandinavian contemporary circus company Cirkus Cikor. Against a striking visual background that traverses sea and city, and accompanied by a moody, electro-acoustic live score, the performers encounter several physical obstacles. As they test their limits they draw parallels between their physical acts – the need to find balance, or to trust in their partner – and the boundaries that so many migrants face.
There are moments of hard-hitting brilliance. In a casual, comical tone one performer talks the audience through his method of solving a rubix cube – blindfolded. The complicated puzzle of words and associated images he uses as his memory aid gradually evolves into the recollections of someone forced to flee their homeland. It’s both astounding and cutting.
Yet often the vital, heartbreaking stories this work is built on become the background thread drawing a series of acts together, rather than the essence of the piece. One moment we hear stories from migrants of the everyday lives they lost, of the dehumanising and difficult journeys they undertook to escape. The next we return to daring acrobatic acts and crowd-pleasing spectacle.
The artistry of these highly skilled performers is worthy of showcasing and the work needs its uplifting moments. There’s a beautiful, gravity-defying Cyr wheel solo and a nail-biting teeterboard duet – a giant see-saw from which two men send each other somersaulting through the air.
However, with such a topical and important subject you long for Cirkus Cikor to dig deeper – in the instances they do, they bring humanity to a harsh and heartless situation.
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