Vault Festival 2018: Becoming Shades
There couldn’t be better setting for the subterranean world of Becoming Shades than the underground Vault Theatre. If visitors have only ever stopped at the venue’s very first rooms, the unconventional deeper spaces of this location will not fail to inspire and make them wonder further at this hidden gem.
Chivaree Circus superbly honour their art – an art form that is celebrating its 250th birthday, since Philip Astley first instituted it – and the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Vote with this innovative and spectacular edition of Becoming Shades, featuring an all-female cast.
Accompanied by electronic and soulful music that has been originally composed and is performed live by Sam West and Becks Johnstone, the acrobats re-enact the Greek myth of Persephone, who was abducted by the God of the underworld, Hades. In this modern-day, alternative interpretation, Persephone becomes the real and only protagonist of this emotional journey, not as a passive subject, but rather empowered and strong as she becomes the Queen of Shades.
It seems there are no limits to the bending and twists of human bodies. Anna McDonnell’s (Lost Soul) splits stretches are incredible, while she is attached to the pole by just one hand. Some of the best moments come from Alfa Marks (Hades) and Rebecca Rennison (Persephone). The two women vault in mid-air slipping along the aerial silks with such elegance it’s hard not to be impressed.
Marks’s speciality is the corde lisse, from where she suspends as if from a natural extension of her figure, while Rennison sleekly gets through a hoop encircled by flames. This latest is one of the most breathtaking moments of the night, with the acrobat entwining with the metal frame and then hanging only by her neck.
The Furies also have a go at playing with fire. Rosie Bartley, Jessica Pearce and Isobel Midnight guide the audience from one side to the other of the room, and smoothly fill in the pauses in between the episodes. They perform a choreographed dance featuring burning torches and lead an emotive scene with candles that is focused on the musician and singer.
Funny gags are included, mostly mastered by Molly Beth Morosa, who, under the all-concealing mask of Charon and wearing cool glowing gloves, is the only speaking character and the entertaining host of the night.
Though it takes a while to fully enter into the dark and enchanting atmosphere, and at times the story may be lost in the astounding flips, Becoming Shades is a truly beautiful celebration of acrobatic storytelling and enchanting circus art in the modern age.
Photos: Lidia Crisafulli
Becoming Shades is at Vault Festival 2018 from 24th January until 18th March 2018. For further information or to book visit the festival website here.
Watch the trailer for the show here: