Alex Harvey rests a long metal pole on his right shoulder and spins it around in a circle. Then he and his agile comrades (Telma Pinto, Steve Ryan, Emily Nicholl and Nich Galzin) run after it, ready to jump and climb on it using their bare hands and legs.
Soon all of them will be hanging upside down, carrying each other’s weight with nothing else but their steer strength. They’ll hook themselves onto a seesaw, go round and round in circles, so fast that it will seem life threatening, but it’s okay because they’ll have everything in control.
Out of Platform Theatre, Kings Cross, inside the University of Arts, the London International Mime Festival – “where you can see the very best and newest contemporary visual theatre from animation and puppetry, mask, and object theatre” – begin with their first show, Tipping Point which is produced by Turtle Key Arts.
Ockham’s Razor, the logical principle for cutting out the unnecessary and going for the simpler and unscrambled option in life, has been incorporated to the small theatre company’s manifesto that takes physical theatre, circus and aerial acrobatics to the next level.
Five metal poles instill the forces our performers have to reckon with. They act as spindles, pillars, pendulums, supporters as well as barriers. They are also filled with salt, which, going back in time to thousands of year ago, was used as a ritualistic source, marking out the safe and sacred area from bad omens and evil spirits from entering. The show toys with the idea of a tipping point where audiences are presented with performers throwing themselves into the void, trying to make sense of the chaos, and awaiting the result.
Much like a traditional circus setting, the 70-minute show is set in a round, and that’s important as the shape of the circle acts as the focal point of where the energy takes place. At the very end, audiences watch as a pole is pushed into motion, releasing the salt that, some how, produces the most perfect circles created naturally, without intervention.
Phil Supple – who recently designed the lighting for the poppy installation at The Tower of London – produces the finer details of the mood through his lighting design, which is neatly arranged with intense music composed by Adem Ilhan and Quinta, who previously worked with Radiohead, Hot Chip and Bat For Lashes. The calm trance, electro and South American beats sharpen the ever-changing tone of physical theatre, which has a dream-like and hypnotic element about it. The performer’s smooth movements are also mixed in with capoeira, break dance and parkour.
This pulsating performance will make you want to get off your seat, join in with the performers, or hit the gym. Many will gasp and hold on to their breath as they watch these fearless performers jump in the air and cling to metal poles without any support wires but their tight grip and ability to wrap their body onto these physical objects. (They make hanging off a rail look effortless.)
Review by Mary Nguyen
Tipping Point is performed as part of the London International Mime Festival from 11th to 23rd January 2016 at The Platform Theatre, Kings Cross.
Tipping Point is set in the round; the audience drawn in close, as the action veers from catastrophe to mastery. The five performers, enclosed within the circle of the stage, transform simple 5 metre metal poles into a rich landscape of images.
Poles are balanced on fingertips, hung from the roof, lashed, climbed, swung from and walked along, they become forests, cross roads and pendulums. The performers balance, climb and cling to this teetering world, supporting each other as they wrestle with the moment when things begin to shift. They must decide whether to rail against the chaos, struggling to exert order on a disordered world, or ride it out, allowing life to tilt towards the tipping point.
Tipping Point features a live performance of a multi-layered surround sound musical landscape especially composed by Adem Ilham & Quinta who have previously worked with Radiohead, Hot Chip and Bat For Lashes. The performance sound will be mixed live and feature violin and the saw played live.
Produced by: Turtle Key Arts
Devised and Directed by: Ockham’s Razor
Devised and Performed by: Alex Harvey, Telma Pinto, Steve Ryan, Emily Nicholl & Nich Galzin.
Musical Composition: Adem Ilhan and Quinta
Equipment Design: Ockham’s Razor
Costume Design: Tina Bicat
Lighting Design: Phil Supple