Assembly George Square Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 8th August 2015
If circus is about taking physical human skills and presenting them in surprising and entertaining ways, then Siro-A is the realm where digital skills and dance combine, in a series of performed ‘acts’.
It is also very much about us as the audience being amazed, and involved. When we enter to take our seats, two of the company members, in iconic pearlescent tracksuits, spiked hair, white face paint and Geordi La Forge visors, are holding a photoshoot on stage. When I realise that this is not the audience using their own cameras, but a piece of production kit, I jump up to join the queue suspecting (as it turns out, quite rightly) that our images will later come into use as part of the show.
Because image is everything here. How do 2D and 3D visuals interact to tell a story, or to delight and amuse, or to look really really cool? Lasers, lights, live feed technology and, most of all, projection mapping, combine with cyber-club choreography in a high energy geek-out that enthrals, impresses and entertains all at the same time.
Computer game and popular movie references appear throughout, lending humour and lightness to both style and content, but a particular highlight for me is the emotional connection made during a sequence that builds a dance from scratch using visual live-looping trickery of one dancer’s shadow, brought to life in prismatic colour.
From feeling like we’re living in Tron to watching a befuddling live hide-the-lady style sequence, it’s easy to get distracted by the technological wonders and overlook the fact that the dancer performers are also exceptionally skilled, with tight sharp choreography and acrobatic prowess that fits naturally and functionally within the action. The skill with which they precisely place themselves to ensure the digital illusions are successful is also extraordinary.
In my experience, this Japanese show is truly a one of a kind, and will reset your thinking on how contemporary technology can be used in the performing arts framework.