Nosedive at the Barbican
Nosedive is the Barbican’s co-production with physical theatre company Superfan. Co-directed by Ellie Dubois and Pete Lannon, Nosedive is a story about adults and children, how different generations relate to each other and the inheritance of both struggle and ambition.
The set is a white box. Within this white box, we will find: one adult man, two adult women, one girl and one boy. It might sound like the start of a riddle, and in fact it sort of is. At points, when the story hangs together, it is captivating, but sadly at others the piece falls a little flat.
The circus skills are thrilling but where the show really soars to amazing heights is when the stunts tell stories. The first sequence is a masterclass in physical storytelling. The acrobatics are fantastic, but in addition to the incredible feats is impeccable timing – sometimes comic, at others suspenseful – that has the audience in the palm of the performers’ hands.
As Nosedive progresses, theatregoers get a little left behind in the story. The children and the adults continue with impressive physical sequences but there seems to be less and less intention behind them. It could be that the themes they portray get too big, and aren’t grounded by allegories the audience can understand.
Whatever that elusive “magic” of theatre is, the viewer will feel quite close to it when watching these performers, on an empty stage, fling a ten-year-old child through the air trusting that their co-performer will seamlessly catch them, to the spectators’ shock and delight. It’s simple (well, provided that you’re an athlete) and incredibly effective. The dynamic between the performers, the trust and their strength, is beguiling.
For those who love physical theatre, this inventive show will be a treat. For those who don’t, the running time of just one hour means that they can enjoy the acrobatics – including a woman standing on a man’s head – without having to check their watch.
Whether the show achieves all it sets out to is debatable, but it is certainly a thought-provoking visual spectacle from a group of obscenely talented performers.
Photo: Brian Hartley
Nosedive is at the Barbican from 7th until 16th November 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.