In the Ancient Greek story of Sisyphus, the titular character is condemned to an eternity of rolling a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down as soon as it reaches the top. Kilter – a collaboration between One Fell Swoop Circus and musician ORCHA – has some ups and downs, but happily is not a futile exercise.
Yet, unfortunately, it often doesn’t relate to the myth, and in particular, the Albert Camus essay The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) from which it claims to draw inspiration. Camus argued that our lives are absurd because of an essential disparity between the order we hope to establish and the disorder to which we are subjected.
The show has an off-kilter opening video sequence as we gaze upon a metal-framed segment like a lemon wedge peel-side down with a rope strung between the two top corners.
We were shown an animation of integral calculus on a distant screen with no substantial explanation (in a font too small for most to see clearly anyway) whilst up to four voices talked over each other. This was a superficial means of trying to hint at the complexity of balancing and changing positions on the frame. As the sequence did not effectively supply context, it was another instance of science as decoration, or clutter.
Further evidence of a dubious understanding of mechanics was shown by some physics demonstrations. Inexplicably, these weren’t given enough time to converge towards the voiceover description and show the point.
Incongruities aside, our performers, Jonathan Morgan and Charice Rust clearly have talents in the circus arena, as well as the novelty of their own purpose-built equipment. At times we hit the show’s theme brilliantly, such as through a performer’s exploration of what their body was capable of within the confines of an apparatus.
The music by ORCHA was peppy and enjoyable, but often the high-energy tunes made it seem (inappropriately for the show’s theme) as if the stakes were high for our performers. Kilter had moments of terrific strength and grace across apparatus including bungee cords and loops suspended at the end of two ropes. The amount of strapping tape on the performers showed that they are pushing their own limits.
If you ignored the Fringe blurb and went along to enjoy the skills and sense of play, you mind find this 40-minute 7.00pm show a good start to a Fringe night at Theatre Works. With appropriate direction, I expect the next collaboration between One Fell Swoop and ORCHA to be one to look out for.
Theatre Works, 14 Acland Street, St Kilda
Performance: Tuesday 11 September 2018 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 16 September 2018
For more information, visit: www.onefellswoopcircus.com for details.
Image: One Fell Swoop Circus presents Kilter – photo by EmmelineD Photography
Review: Jason Whyte