Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | Traces at the Peacock Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Traces at the Peacock Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | Traces at the Peacock Theatre
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13 Jun REVIEW: Traces at the Peacock Theatre

As a genre, circus is something you can get very, very right, or just as easily get very, very wrong. A strong start is up for grabs in featuring impressive acrobatics, so long as it’s well rehearsed and not too diluted (full marks so far), but with the soaring popularity of circus shows, standing out from the crowd is a definite challenge. From Quebecan company The Seven Fingers, Traces stands head and shoulders above the majority of apparently similar shows, leading the way in fusing circus, dance and storytelling, to create something that comes together to be phenomenally exciting.

A mesmerisingly beautiful show, Traces isn’t just infused with dance; dance principles underlie every movement, stunningly choreographed (Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider) to bring a gorgeous cohesion to the piece. Not so much a collection of “tricks” as in almost every other circus production, but a series of stories told through movement, Traces boasts an unparalleled sophistication and precision that layers artistic merit on top of the strength and agility expected of any circus performer, pushing the boundaries both of physical capability and artistic content.

Over the course of the evening, seven incredibly talented performers – the “fingers” of the troupe’s name – take turns demonstrating their respective specialities, from a wonderfully elegant aerial strap routine, to a diabolo number that shows that – contrary to common belief – when performed with a little bit of swagger, diabolo can actually be very, very cool, and even a little bit sexy. Of course, you can confidently expect a high-octane dance trapeze number to be exhilarating, but some of the most exciting moments actually come when the entire company is on stage, performing together, the choreography coming to the fore and the energy infectious. This is never more true than in a particularly memorable ensemble pole number that raises the metaphorical bar time and time again, and in some hand-to-hand action unlike anything you’ll have seen before.

Visibly loving taking this dynamic show around the world, the performers truly are masters of their fields, achieving feats that many other circuses wouldn’t dare entertain even in the rehearsal room, let alone on stage, and doing it all with a certain finesse. That polished finish is Using light – or rather, shadows – as though creating characters from nothing, and adopting unusual – if not revolutionary – technology to alter the audience’s point of view, the show as a whole feels wonderfully poetic against the gritty urban backdrop that ties it all together.

As in most circus productions, though, there is a balance to be struck between acrobatics and clowning, and it has to be said that the interludes between heartstopping acrobatic routines and ensemble numbers dip the pace and feel comparatively slow going, thinly disguised filler not overtly necessary for the storytelling ability of the production. Whilst it certainly adds an endearing dimension having each performer personally introduced, the point is laboured somewhat and the comedy doesn’t quite translate, in a show that would be sufficiently long enough without – or with fewer – of these intruding vignettes.

Comedic blips aside, with an incredible variety to the acts performed, Traces proves itself to be an awe-inspiring show, piqued with well-considered staging, high energy choreography and storytelling unrivalled in circus. Ticking so many more boxes than you would ever have expected, it comes highly recommended.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Peacock Theatre
Dates: 9th June – 12th July

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here