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Jacksons Lane and Lost in Translation present Luminosa

While Jackson’s Lane Theatre’s huge rebuilding project rumbles on (due to complete at the end of October), they have reopened with Luminosa by Lost In Translation. We enter the auditorium through a tarpaulin-and-bunting temporary side corridor, and while it’s great to be back in the (original) auditorium of London’s circus-centric theatre, I can’t help but feel that this show seems unfinished too.

Tasha Rushbrooke, Luminosa at Jacksons Lane. Credit Alex Brenner
Tasha Rushbrooke, Luminosa at Jacksons Lane. Credit Alex Brenner.

We’re welcomed in by Peter Reynolds, an edge-of-the-stage MC, musician and vocalist whose role will be to (try to) tie the whole show together. His voice, along with the cast arriving carrying candles, delivers a creepy, ethereal air that sets my skin tingling and promises exciting spectacles.

But the moment the candles are blown out, the mood shifts to a comedic, slapstick runaround, with fun tumbles, but confusing in its emotional levity. Of course, you want a variety of tone from a circus performance, but if this is trying to lead us through a continuum of emotions, I’m missing the cues as to why the narrative is turning this way and that.

Reynolds’ MC is at times an overbearing, controlling presence, refusing to play the performers chosen music and imposing his own improvised efforts, but the next moment he’s crooning a ballad (don’t get me wrong: and doing it well!), without any objection. Which is it: is he a frustrating antagonist, or a cuddly music hall artiste?

After the candles, the light theme of the show’s title becomes more diffuse. While there are spotlights, torches, and even a dazzling, multicolour LED mask, these felt to me, thrown in. Yes, circus requires stage lighting, and yes, that means directorial decisions about how you light each act, but I wasn’t seeing anything more inventive or playful in this aspect of staging than the next circus show.

But if the whole thing didn’t quite cohere, what of the individual acts? The performers shine brighter than their setting, with a good mix of acrobatics, dance and feats of daring.

Foot-juggling is astonishing the first time you see it, and as a discipline demonstrating just how extraordinary (and delightfully superfluous!) are the feats humans can achieve with practice, I could watch it all day. The interpretation here, with Val Jauregui playfully involving other cast members, takes things up a notch.

The big man, little woman aerial acrobatics had the audience holding its breath, and it’s great to see Massimiliano Rossetti proving that circus can be for all body types, partnered ably by Roisin Morris.

Zaki Musa’s gender-bending pole routine deserves a special mention as a stand-out section: alluring, graceful, challenging of conceptions. Though in another sense it stood out because it wasn’t clear it fitted perfectly within the show. In this respect, I’d want the production to flex to include more of these edgy acts, rather than cutting this out to fit its more conventional surroundings.

The majority of the performances, however, seemed to end abruptly. Perhaps this was a function of having ten performers – which didn’t grant particularly long for each act to hold the stage. Several times I felt like we were gearing up for a final, climactic trick, only to realise they’d settled back onto their feet, for a bow and to leave the stage.

The core and skeleton of this show are solid, but it needs tidying at the edges, a clearer imposition on an overall design language, and a final coat of glittery paint.

3 Star Review

Review by Ben Ross

Open your eyes and let the light flood in…
A brand-new circus cabaret for the 21st century! A sizzling, scintillating night of daring feats, fun and fantastic performance, expect cutting edge dance in the sky, jaw-dropping juggling, tipsy hoop swirling, live music, laughter and much more in this feel-good show. With at least eight performers every night, and a company of revolving special guests, expect a night packed with Chinese Pole, silks, straps, aerial hoop, hand balancing, acrobatics, hooping, flying pole and much more alongside brilliant live music from Peter Reynolds.

Featuring the cream of British and international circus artists, Luminosa is the biggest and best circus show in town, a real ‘don’t miss’ night out. Directed by Ade Berry, Jacksons Lane’s Artistic Director, and Lost in Translations’ Massimiliano Rossetti.

22 Sep 2021 – 29 Sep 2021
DURATION: 70 minutes
https://www.jacksonslane.org.uk/

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