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NoFit State Circus: Lexicon review at Big Top, Hove – ‘impressive, but repetitious’

Scene from NoFit State Circus: Lexicon at Big Top, Hove. Photo: Richard Davenport

There are some genuinely thrilling moments in No Fit State Circus’ new show, Lexicon. Proper heart-in-mouth stuff, including a fire juggling sequence from the charismatic Luke Hallgarten that’s simultaneously perilous and playful. Unicyclist Sam Goodburn also performs a series of increasingly impressive feats, that concludes with him cycling atop a row of upended wine glasses.

David Murray’s music is often wonderfully atmospheric too, all played by a live band and including a gorgeously mournful choral sequence. But there’s a lot here that feels like filler.

The theme of the show, we’re told, is mischief and rule-breaking. In the opening sequence, the performers sit at school desks and pelt each other with paper, something they continue to do even as the desks are lifted into the air. It’s not short on spectacle, but what Firenza Guidi’s show lacks is a sense of progression or thematic coherence.

For every routine that dazzles there’s one that falls a little flat and for a circus show pitched squarely at a family audience, it’s dispiritingly repetitious. The first time we see the performers riding a series of comedy bicycles it’s pretty funny, less so the third time. A rope routine doesn’t really get going and a segment during which a man hand-balances inside a cylinder of black gauze while a spotlight is shone on him – presumably to create a balletic shadow effect – doesn’t work well at all.

The technical skill on display is of a high standard, the music superb, but the show feels overloaded and awe-fatigue soon sets in.

How NoFit State tore up the circus rulebook


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Episodically enjoyable mixture of circus and live music that outstays its welcome.