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Unique spectacle had us all enthralled

The age of the circus as a display of captive wild animals is, thankfully, over.

And so is the age of the big top, with ringmaster and death-defying trapeze artists.

Hogwallops is new circus entity, a medieval-style domestic narrative with physical performance built in.

The stage setting was sparse, domestic and everyday: a table, microwave, tumble dryer; festoons of washed clothing hung from an overhead line, various containers lay scattered about. There was a set of conga drums and background scaffolding, which rose 20ft or so.

Background music consisted of 1920s Bessie Smith blues numbers. The main cast members, two female and three male, and an unobtrusive keyboard and saxophone-playing musician, gradually introduced themselves.

We learnt that it was the birthday of the only named actor, mustachioed and flat-capped Fred, and that his prized present was a banana. Whenever he held it aloft, a dazzling spotlight shone and a loud burst of angelic music sounded.

A female actor emerged from the tumble dryer. Fred took over the congas. Cast members, some in green and red motley, slowly piled microwave, dryer and boxes on the table until it was some 20ft. They then performed a series of rapid backflips, shoulder stands, leaps and dives and climbed to the top of the structure before starting a slow, ballet-like ensemble while introducing a basket containing an egg.

Motley “Frederico” then commenced examining it while Fred and others walked by, depositing more eggs on the table. Frederico then began to juggle with his feet, hands, arms, shoulders, back, neck and so on, up to a count of seven eggs. Transition sequences continued to flow one after the other, each containing different types of physical feats to show the sheer athleticism and precision of these performers.

Sometimes Dada-like nonsense was followed by highly skilled ballet and trapeze work. Most memorable to me was the failed, desperate CPR work done on the skin of a recently eaten banana, followed by an incredible series of moves with a flying zimmer frame. Hogwallops was a unique spectacle combining modern techniques with medieval narratives which had us all enthralled.

Hogwallops (Lost in Translation Circus) performed at Ruth Seaton James on Saturday and Sunday as part of the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts.

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