Part of Circus Fest 2014 at the Roundhouse, Belonging combines theatre and acrobatics, pushing boundaries with a disabled cast.
Arriving at Roundhouse, I am ushered upstairs and on to the outside terrace, which was covered in sand last time I visited the venue for Camden Beach. It’s now sand free and occupied by a pop up red-top tent. Squeezed in on long benches we are faced with a range of silks, hoops and trapezes hanging from the ceiling.
We are each handed a small pencil and a piece of paper that says: ‘Belonging: a story about us and you’. On the other side, it asks: ‘What does belonging mean to you?’, with a dotted line for our answer.
It sets the tone for a production about shared experience and a sense of belonging, whether to a person or place.
Despite initial appearances, this is not your average circus act. As well as acrobatics, there is a narrative running through, as a group of disparate people prepare to say goodbye to a soon-to-be demolished building that means something different to each of them. A man in fluorescent jacket opens the show by telling them, ’15 minutes then you’re out’. As the show progresses, there are various flashbacks showing the significance of this house for different characters.
Production companies Graeae and Circo Crescer e Viver put the cast’s disabilities centre-stage, using the fact that the cast members can remove their prosthetic limbs quite easily. At one point, two characters have a fight while suspended on hoops in the air and one pulls off the other’s prosthetic leg.
There’s also singing and dancing. Along with the narrative this adds an extra dimension to the usual circus act, but it can be quite hard to follow the story at times, particularly as it is made up of disjointed flashbacks.
Despite this, Belonging is both humorous and poignant at times, in its bold attempt to blend a relatable narrative with the thrill of circus acrobatics.
Belonging was performed until Saturday 19 April at:
Chalk Farm Road