Circomedia, Bristol – until 9 March 2017
Max likes birds. Max really likes birds. Max also likes setting the scene… really really well. Something Max doesn’t seem to like is risk. Unfortunately for this show.
Anyday is gently enjoyable, nothing jarring or askew. It involves skills of trampoline, manipulation and clowning. Its aesthetic is clear from the moment you step into the room: tweeting and rustling, feathers and torn pages; breadcrumbs line the stage, a bird cage swings ominously; a man, dressed in rags with a long beard, sit amongst the mess. It’s an intriguing, if slightly creepy, feel – think Home Alone bird-lady meets Stig of the Dump. That kind of feel. One tramp and his trampoline.
The show, around 45 minutes long, revolves around this tramp (Max Calaf Sevé), as he tries to teach a bird to fly. Without giving anything away, it’s a difficult task. There are fleeting moments of lovely movement and humour. Alas, they are too few and very far between.
When seeing a circus-based show, I feel that there are certain things people expect. Perhaps not everyone (and not everyone will want the same things all the time) but, generally, what I want to see is some risk. Some daring. Either through the skill and tricks, or – similar to the risk I expect from theatre – some sort of plot or character risk.
Anyday gives neither of these. It hops happily from branch to branch of its little story tree, methodically. Max never shows us a trick or trampoline skill that feels risky. But, more importantly, his story falls flat and doesn’t deliver any emotional risk either. Such a slow burning solo show fails to connect as, despite the classic clown behaviour of trying to involve the audience at the start, throughout the rest he hovers somewhere between pathetic and extremely competent, which is confusing character-wise.
So when the final blow strikes at the end, rather than tears or pity, what I feel for this clown is simply a long, bored sigh.
There are plenty of fantastic clowns on trampoline and this one does not stand out in the crowd. A shame, as the costume and set (Cathy Wren) and sound design (Matt Huxley), are wonderful scene setters. If only the single performer had the energy to pull it off.
Maybe Max should leave his comfort-zone birdcage and spread his wings some more…