Underbelly Festival, London – until 12 August 2018
To my shame, perhaps, I haven’t seen anything but comedy at the Underbelly’s South Bank location, and I certainly hadn’t seen any sort of circus in a while, so it was a real treat to see something a little different. Metta Theatre’s Poppy Burton-Morgan has taken the classic tale of The Little Mermaid and given it a very modern spin; quite literally, given the incorporation of circus skills into the hour-long tale.
The performers are quite the multi-taskers, singing, playing instruments and flexing for our entertainment throughout the hour. Some truly thrilling moments are created through acrobatics, the tricky cyr wheel and aerial circus, to the point where I can imagine some new young recruits to the discipline. Burton-Morgan has worked with Matt Devereaux to produce a charming original soundtrack, perfect for her reimagining of some very traditional elements of the story. Clever sound design enables the cast to play instruments and sing, bringing a lovely folk atmosphere which complements the intent of Metta to celebrate the 250-year anniversary of circus.
The press release for this production would lead the average audience member to suppose that a lot is being attempted in such a short running time, but happily, the combination of feminism, folk and circus is a happy one, which certainly seemed to captivate everyone in the room with me, from 4-year-olds to grandparents. The modest costumes suit the stripped-down staging, with every performer displaying bucket-loads of charisma, musical talent and quite sublime circus skills. Even if you don’t have a child to entertain, you can’t fail to be utterly entranced by this delightful, splashy sisterhood.