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No Show review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘thrilling’

The cast of No Show The cast of No Show
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An all-female company of circus artists play cleverly with the invocation of spectacle and its denial in the fascinating No Show. Demonstrations of extraordinary skill and strength are book-ended by the awkward enactment of not putting on a show. There are blank stares out at the audience, long silences, even an extended section for the thoughtful eating of doughnuts.

These women are sometimes frank about the superficial burdens placed on female performers in a male-dominated discipline. One takes the microphone to relate her experience of working on a TV show in which professional performers taught circus skills to celebrities.

Her role was about big smiles and perfect splits, while the men did the power tumbling routines, despite this being her area of expertise. Matter of factly, she then dashes off a series of thrilling flips.

The glamorous show pony ideal is underscored in an effective routine in which one acrobat attempts to introduce herself. Others rush on and forcibly manipulate her onto the balancing canes – she contorts into ever more precarious poses in silence, while commanded to twist and smile in order to distract from her “massive arms”. Somewhat hindered by a cramped venue, this company have a wonderful, vital presence.

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Verdict
Five female performers brilliantly flip audience expectations of circus razzle-dazzle and expose industry sexism
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