BETA TESTING – Udderbelly, Southbank

In Circus, Edinburgh Festival, London theatre, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

THROW IT UP, KEEP IT MOVING,  THAT’S LIFE…

With August looming over the horizon, there comes a time when the critic needs to harden up, sit on some prickly astroturf leaning on a dustbin, eating a falafal wrap and staring up forebodingly at an enormous upturned purple inflatable cow. Just to remember that it’ll soon be time to brace up for the Edinburgh Fringe. Luckily, London has its own Udderbelly season now, with every kind of oddity and adventure and show-off and physical-theatre explosion. So down I went to see the Circus Geeks explain the nature and psychology of juggling.

And so they do. This hour-long session is an oddity, even amid the circus-variety-standup Udderbelly world, because Matt Pang, Aaron Sparks and Jon Udry are accomplished jugglers – of clubs, balls, hoops, chairs, diabolos, top hats, anything life throws at them – but rather than merely dazzling and demonstrating, they want to discuss. And deconstruct. And admit what it’s like when you drop one.

A vox pop (bits of sound are fed in, and bits of video, breathtaking, on the screen) says, among other things, that it is a metaphor for life, and less kindly that “only other jugglers” are really interested: the cruel paradox being that the better a juggler is, the longer he or she can go on, the more likely the audience are to get a bit bored….theatricality demands danger and conflict, and a really sucessful performer makes this art look smooth and easy. Bummer, as the lads would say.

It’s an entertaining hour, and has taught me something of the lexicon of the trade: I now know the difference between oldschool, newschool, Russian, Mexican (very fast) and French (interpretative mimetic lecoq-y stuff). I know how to breathe the word “Gatto!” after a great child prodigy when something is superb. So there you are. Can face the Fringe programme now. Been in my first purple cow. Summer’s begun…

http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk to 21 June

rating There’s really no point. Read the above and you’ll see if you fancy it. I did.

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Libby Purves
Libby Purves was theatre critic for The Times from 2010 to 2013. Determined to continue her theatre commentary after losing that job, she set up her own site www.theatrecat.com in October 2013. She personally reviews all major London openings, usually with on-the-night publication, and also gives voice to a new generation of critics with occasional guest 'theatrekittens'. In addition to her theatre writing and myriad other credits, Libby has been a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek for over 30 years. She is also the author of a dozen novels, and numerous non-fiction titles. In 1999, Libby was appointed an OBE for services to journalism.
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Libby Purves on RssLibby Purves on Twitter
Libby Purves
Libby Purves was theatre critic for The Times from 2010 to 2013. Determined to continue her theatre commentary after losing that job, she set up her own site www.theatrecat.com in October 2013. She personally reviews all major London openings, usually with on-the-night publication, and also gives voice to a new generation of critics with occasional guest 'theatrekittens'. In addition to her theatre writing and myriad other credits, Libby has been a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek for over 30 years. She is also the author of a dozen novels, and numerous non-fiction titles. In 1999, Libby was appointed an OBE for services to journalism.

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