‘Fantasy world of fabulous simplicity’: TESSERACT – Jacksons Lane (London International Mime Festival)

In Circus, London theatre, Opinion, Reviews by Katharine KavanaghLeave a Comment

Jacksons Lane, London

A tropical veranda; lush fern, warm wicker lamp, a winding garden path. But look a little closer, and the building blocks that make up this universe are all on show. In Tesseractwe join comically muttering funambulist Nacho Flores as he slips through the dimension of the everyday into another where our familiar geometries cease to apply. Cubes connect in strange and magical ways, underpinned instead by dramaturgical rules and Flores’ finely-honed balancing skills.

Columns of small wooden cubes stack and fall, sometimes with Flores’ help, sometimes without. Tiny cubes are the cousins of a juggler’s cigar boxes; a larger block is the eccentric uncle of a rola globe. And this world is populated with figures too, with a life of their own behind a seemingly inanimate shell. New magic and circus have again proven themselves ideal companions in this fantasy world of fabulous simplicity and carefully programmed chaos.

From a plant that needs watering yet is too high to reach to an Indiana Jones style escape, Flores’ clambers, teeters and grunts his way through a series of ever more surreal scenarios, surprising us into laughter or drawing tense inhalations from our pursed lips as it seems sure everything must come crashing down beneath him.

Exemplary lighting from Thomas Bourreau allows illusion to fool our senses, which go into overdrive when confronted by Daniel Forniguera’s video mapping.

Tesseract could be an allegory for an unravelling mind, or it could be, like David Bowie’s Labyrinth, a place where the extraordinary really does happen. This was the UK premiere of the show, which won Flores a CircusNext laureate in 2013-2014, but I hope to see a tour outside the capital follow to showcase more widely the potential for contemporary circus creation.

Katharine Kavanagh
Katharine is a circus writer based in the Midlands, a handy travel hub for getting out and about to new and smaller-scale work. From a background as a performer, theatre-maker and circus volunteer, Katharine took part in the EU-funded 'Unpack the Arts' circus residency, set up The Circus Diaries website, and now dedicates herself to sharing the intricacies of circus art with the world.

She says: "Circus is an area of performing arts where few people have the vocabulary and understanding to write balanced critical appraisal. This tends to result in wishy-washy 'reviews' that all sound the same and say very little about the relative quality of the show.

"As the circus arts grow in popularity and engagement across the UK, it's important for critical voices to reflect this to increasingly discerning audiences. That's where I come in."
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Katharine Kavanagh
Katharine is a circus writer based in the Midlands, a handy travel hub for getting out and about to new and smaller-scale work. From a background as a performer, theatre-maker and circus volunteer, Katharine took part in the EU-funded 'Unpack the Arts' circus residency, set up The Circus Diaries website, and now dedicates herself to sharing the intricacies of circus art with the world.

She says: "Circus is an area of performing arts where few people have the vocabulary and understanding to write balanced critical appraisal. This tends to result in wishy-washy 'reviews' that all sound the same and say very little about the relative quality of the show.

"As the circus arts grow in popularity and engagement across the UK, it's important for critical voices to reflect this to increasingly discerning audiences. That's where I come in."