4/5 Stars

★★★★ Thrilling, Cutting-Edge Circus

Maddy Price reviews It’s Not Yet Midnight… at The Roundhouse

Compagnie XY, Poitiers. France. Photograph by David Levene 13/12/16

French performers Compagnie XY bring circus thrills to the Roundhouse in the UK premiere of their new show It’s Not yet Midnight…, an evening of cutting-edge circus and a celebration of community.

It is immediately clear that this isn’t your typical big-top circus show, as all the performers are dressed for a weekend in east London – beards, tattoos and topknots included. The show begins with a physical-theatre-style fist fight, two performers hurling themselves at each other, back-flipping into the air and crashing to the floor. Gradually more and more people enter until the stage has turned into a brawl, and the atmosphere is pretty aggressive. But this violent beginning only serves to highlight what this performance is really about – which is friendship and trust.

Gradually the performers stop fighting, and start embracing, and then they are sending each other soaring into the air and gently catching each other as they land. There is no crash equipment, an incredible fact considering the outrageous feats these artists perform. Instead the performers gather together underneath the three, four and even five person towers, ready to catch their comrades should something go wrong. Of course nothing does and there really are no words to describe how impressive the acrobatic achievements are. But perhaps more impressive is the performers’ cooperation and absolute trust in each other, which becomes less surprising when you realise they all live together in a collective and must make every decision unanimously. You can read more about that in our interview with them here.

There are so many elements here – a Radiohead-esque soundtrack, influences from jazz and swing dance, lots of joyful humour and, of course, world-class acrobatics. But this is more than just a spectacle, at the heart of it all is a tender message, summed up by one of the performers in a speech at the end of the show: ‘Alone we go faster, together we go further.’

Come for the thrills, but stay for the feels. This is circus with heart.

Maddy Price

It’s Not Yet Midnight… runs at the Roundhouse until April 23rd


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