Kin surprises the audience at every turn. Comedy shifts into the most extraordinary acrobatics, which then propels us forward into poignant moments of joy, a physical display of the power of human connections. I left the Peacock Theatre trying to define what it was that I had seen, this genre-busting show that is so much more than an ensemble circus troupe. Perhaps it is ‘Waiting for Godot’ meets circus extravaganza. Perhaps it is gymnastics with an artistic, human soul. Or perhaps it does not need to be defined, this astonishing production, a one-hour performance that flies by too quickly, crafted with exquisite care and creativity.
The narrative that drives the piece forward is an audition. Five dancers, numbers sewn onto their trousers, try to impress the dance mistress, coquettishly showing off their balances and lifts, a dance that is gravity-defying but also surprisingly tender. Every now and again, a telephone rings. They are waiting for someone to return, a mysterious Godot-style figure whose absence seems to bind the dancers together. They ask each other questions: Who do you miss? What are you afraid of? They tell each other stories of the normal lives they led before finding themselves in this dystopian audition, the final five waiting to hear if they have been chosen. It moves between the poignant and the absurd, and the audience is swept along by the humanity of it all. It is wonderfully funny throughout the dancers fight over a banana, like children desperate to win a prize; they jostle and argue, all the while drawing closer together. Kin seems to be about individuals striving to excel, but also about the powerful dynamics of a group of people in a shared situation trying to make it work.
Every member of the cast is an outstanding acrobat and dancer. Moving with pristine grace and explosive power, they find roots in the ground and then fly, unbelievably, into the air. They catch and throw one another, the trust that links them bringing a surprisingly emotional delight to their movements. When Fiona Thornhill dances in her giant hoop, her musicality catches the audience off guard: it is exquisitely beautiful, as though she has become one with the hoop, the music, the space around her. There is no doubt that we could watch her for hours. Nikki Rummer is a mesmerizingly talented artist. While it is hard to define a leading role in this performance, if there is one, it would be her. She has such athleticism and strength in her movements. The four men all have wonderful character and charm, as well as being talented acrobats. Jumping and flipping across a seesaw, they turn the audition into a game of height and risk.
Children and adults alike will delight in this performance. It is an artistic feast and audiences will want it to start all over again as soon as it is over. Barely Methodical Troupe is a company to watch; it will be incredibly exciting to see what they do next.