Race Horse Company: Super Sunday at the Roundhouse
A new circus is in town, and there really couldn’t be a better venue for it than north London’s iconic Roundhouse. The vast urban big top is hosting three weeks of off-the-wall, contemporary performances – starting with the latest offering from award-winning Finnish company Race Horse Company.
Created in 2008, the anarchic ensemble aims to redefine circus through elements of black humour and surprise. For this show, their playground (designed by Jere Monkkonen and Klasu Eklund) is a derelict, sometimes nightmarish fairground: a metallic, spinning carousel minus the horses, a candy pink car that swivels 360 degrees on its axis, and a giant teddy bear tossed into the air in a not so traditional game of strongman, are just some of its strange attractions.
The six male performers, dressed casually in Hawaiian shirts and shorts and bumbling around the stage with a goofy kind of charm, look more like Californian stoners than polished acrobats. There’s a certain Jackass-style appeal to their feats of daring; it feels as though the audience has stumbled upon a group of friends in an abandoned funfair, egging each other on to perform increasingly bold tricks. But although this laid-back approach makes their best acrobatics seem more striking when they do arrive, it’s also what lets the show down. At times, it’s all a little too chaotic and the drawn-out silliness tests the viewer’s patience. With only 70 minutes to impress, a bit less clowning around could leave time for a few more adrenaline kicks.
The striking lighting design and an eclectic soundtrack – ranging from thudding drum n bass and toe-tapping blues, to a haunting Gregorian chant – provide an atmospheric backdrop and ramp up the tension. The group impress most when they work together to create the spectacle: a brilliantly choreographed display on two trampolines, and all six of them taking it in turns to somersault across a rickety old seesaw stand out.
In the highlight of the show, a dangerous-looking metallic contraption is lowered onto the stage and the audience holds its breath. As one of them is slowly and deliberately attached to the spinning wheel with clingfilm, it becomes clear that this stunt epitomises what the troupe set out to achieve: to create something funny, brave and irreverent. Adding in some more theatrics to match this one would catapult Super Sunday just that little bit higher.
Race Horse Company: Super Sunday is on at the Roundhouse from 4th April 2016 until 16th April 2016 as part of Circusfest, for further information or to book visit here.