“We should know by now that the most exact, most precise representation of the human heart is the labyrinth. And where the human heart is involved, anything is possible”
(The Elephant’s Journey, José Saramango)
Nofit State Circus is back with its newly adapted 2015 immersive promenade experience BIANCO. Entering the tent you are left to explore a huge dimly lit grunge style performance space. As the artists gabble away to each other, pushing through the crowd as if obstacles, the pre-show is choreographed chaos with silhouettes of performers, hidden by translucent sheets, warming up behind a scaffolding cage in front of you. Props and ladders are thrown around amongst muffled shouts of indistinct languages and you stand there invisible, as if you have secretly stumbled into an unidentifiable time.
Channelling Portuguese laureate José Saramango’s novel The Elelphant’s Journey, embarking on an adventure across Europe, creator and director Firenza Guidi’s BIANCO plays with concepts of geographical place and contemporary culture. With a cast from all over the world, the show incorporates elements of burlesque humour, romance and cabaret set against innovative contemporary imitations of a trip to the cinema and a balmy trampoline based scene at the seaside.
Between the tender moments of interpretative sequences in the air by the trapeze, rope and silk artists, there are dives and stunts that generate gasps from the audience as performers drop, spin and leap above and around you but the element of danger makes it all the more exhilarating. Whilst the team are incredibly safety conscious with the audience, particularly the children, the company perform without safety nets. However, their energy and confidence is infectious and within the first fifteen minutes, you begin to forget that they are in danger at all as you are so wrapped up in the visual and aural spectacle. Scene changes often become a part of the act and there is always something to overt your eye and capture your attention whist structural reshuffles are taking place.
There are a few stagnant changes but the momentum is never lost as the atmosphere is maintained by the incredible live band and diverse score. BIANCO is as much about the artistic choreography as it about the music that compliments it.
Shedding their clothes, transforming and adapting to each new structure, the chameleon like performers take on multiple roles within this huge narrative and create a visual language that demonstrates (building on the foundations of Saramango’s novel) that we are capable of surpassing our own expectations. To single out individuals feels wrong as every performer whether they are holding an instrument, strapped to a harness or doing both adds something unique.
You cannot merely watch the show, for those extensive 140 minutes you become a part of it, being allowed to enter the performers intimate world both figuratively and literally through the promenade experience. If you are willing to embrace BIANCO for what it is – there is no pandering to the audience, you are shuffled around and you stand for the duration – the danger, spectacle and unrestrained beauty will take your breath away. The technical skill and serenity is coupled with something raw but the outcome is utterly compelling. Nofit State Circus bares its soul in this pioneering production of friendship and adventure. It is clear that a NoFit family has been created and by end of show when in that moment you want to be a part of it, you find yourself left in the finale’s close standing in a snow globe with the performers watching you.
NoFit State don’t just set the bar high, they fearlessly leap over it.