I knew this was a five star show when I was moved to tears within the first minute. As soon as the performers’ feet leave the floor and they begin their graceful movements; shifting, creating shapes suggestive of silent love, enjoyment in human interaction and supporting each other with such poise and control, accompanied by a beautifully emotive score, my attention was unequivocally theirs.
Ockham’s Razor artistic directors Charlotte Mooney and Alex Harvey are joined in this production by contemporary dancer Lee Carter and young performer Faith Fahy, together they form an intergenerational family unit. They proceed to use acrobatics, movement and direct address to tell personal, heartfelt stories about their lives, their relationships and their understanding of themselves. As well as speaking directly to the audience, the four cling to, swing from and play with a trapeze likened to an oblong mirror or a door.
Snippets of story told by the cast add to the meaning of the movement. After Carter describes the experience of conceiving age 49 only for her son to be stillborn, loads with profundity the moments in which we first see her climbing the body of her son (represented by Harvey) who carries his sleeping mother across his shoulders and then carrying Harvey around her own waist towards the edge of the stage.
“Utterly enthralling from the moment feet leave the floor”
Circus has traditional been heavily inter-generational: a family affair. The beauty of This Time is in portraying an everyday, relatable family dynamic without ever explicitly defining it as such – the relative ages and genders of the cast allow the audience to infer relationships between them. The youngest member of the cast can seem, in one scene, to be a younger self, seen through a mirror into the past, or a daughter and a granddaughter, over-protected by a loving family group. The love and care taken in creating this show radiates from the performers. There is something moving and inspiring in watching their individual athleticism combine with complete trust in each other. The simplicity and ease with which the cast move makes the physical feats appear inviting and natural.
The sound design for this production could easily be lauded as an artistic feat in its own right but it has clearly been created around and inspired by the stories and movements of the performers. Composers/Musicians Max Reinhardt and Chioma Uma play with styles and genres to create what Reinhardt describes as ‘a sonic tapestry of music from many decades’. It is an aural collaboration to complement the cast on stage, providing an emotional support to the piece that augments the physical support shared onstage.
Utterly enthralling from the moment feet leave the floor. This Time is pure, raw and empathetically human. It is indescribably moving to watch an age-integrated cast of this calibre perform with such passion and sincerity.
Image: Nik Mackey