Wednesday 2nd August 2017 at The Cockpit Theatre, London.
Circus Abyssinia’s Ethiopian Dreams is bursting at the seams with acrobatic talent and impressive visual spectacle. The company deliver juggling, cloth spinning, contortionist and acrobatic acts which are all underscored with joyous, atmospheric music.
Moments in which I found myself watching through my fingers are a testament to the sense of awe created by the company. There were a few small errors which I think is inevitable in a show of this nature but boy are the acrobats and contortionists in particular a sight to behold! The precision and synchronicity are incredibly impressive and the strength and stamina of the company are simply extraordinary. After a little research, it’s clear that the company have performed shows with sets and additional spectacle but this performance was clearly stripped back for Camden Fringe (images here are from previous shows, this production was performed on a simple, bare stage). The additional production features would have been nice no doubt but this show is definitely a winner regardless.
There is a nice sense of variety in Ethiopian Dreams, with acts ranging from lively and joyous to sultry or incredibly tense in tone. I loved the eerie lighting for the contortionist act; steeped in green light, the two women added another level to this circus show by playing on our discomfort with extraordinary physicality to give their performance an extra kick. I only wish there had been a list to identify the performers as there is great need for recognition for each performer in a show like this; the hours of rehearsal and discipline are boldly evident in the gut curling, often stunning displays of skill and strength.
The group dances are full of joy and are uplifting to watch and the two very young leads are nothing short of astounding in their fearless acrobatic abilities. The visuals of the acrobatic, balancing and cloth spinning acts are highlights for me; mesmerising and thrilling while courting genuine fear at the seeming impossibility of some of the stunts. While there are less effective moments which fell a little flat (some of it owing to the small, rather sleepy audience at this 10.30am performance rather than the company), this is a great show and one hell of a bargain at £7 a ticket as part of the Camden Fringe. If they’re around again, catch this if you can!