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Review: NoFit State's BIANCO at the Roundhouse

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You should check your pulse if watching BIANCO doesn't give you a visceral thrill. In the latest show from the British contemporary circus company NoFit State, the performers don't just push the boundaries of strength and skill- they obliterate them as they leap from the rafters, drop to the floor and flip through the air (barely skimming the tops of the audience heads in the process).

The immersive nature of the show means the audience moves with each scene, being shepherded through each set change by cast members and stewards as they go. The performers remain a permanent fixture in the spherical arena throughout the show, whether they are moving the scaffold-like set structures, rigging the ariel ropes or engaging in jovial conversation with the audience. Part of the novelty of the performance lies in the possibility of seeing a completely different show from another audience member- depending on where you are positioned.

The show is divided into in multiple group and solo performances, each exhibiting the individual performers acrobatic multi-tasking; there is juggling while reciting Portuguese spoken word poetry, hula hooping one handed hand stands while chatting to the audience in French, tightrope walking, trampolining and unraveling from sky high ropes at the speed of naughts, all executed with a rugged and powerful elegance.

One particularly impressive solo was when a tightrope walker chased and glided her way back and forth across the rope while precariously pealing off her clothing (and even wig) on one leg with barely a wobble. The seductive live music builds suspense in tandem with each movement.

The narrative of the show (loosely inspired by José Saramago’s Nobel Prize-winning book, The Elephant’s Journey) is lost among the wacky acrobatics and ever evolving set, but the daredevilry and sense of fun remained firmly intact throughout.

As the show builds to a climax snow begins to fall, giving the performers and audience the sense that they are together under a giant snow globe, joining them in this fantasy of a  production.