12th May 2015
Our rating: *****
Crying Out Loud and DREAM presented Barely Methodical Troupe in their performance of Bromance. On stage tonight were Charlie Wheeller, Louis Gift and Beren D’Amico. Directed by Eddie Kay, choreography by Ella Robson Guilfoyle.
This hour-long show was sensational. We have tagged the show as ‘dance’ but only because we don’t have any other labels that are suitable.
This show brought together and fused into one sensational act – gymnastics, acrobatics, dance, mime and acting. They referred to it as ‘circus performance’ but that to me was not helpful, even though Bromance won the Total Theatre/Jacksons Lane Award for Circus.
The acrobatic routines and the dance moves required split-second timing; the dance routines required synchronised choreography. The three guys achieved all of this with consummate ease and laudable levels of agility.
The show had moments that were funny; some of the moves and actions drew laughter from the audience. A lot of the acting involved looks, expressions and gestures that were quite subtle. The first scene showed the three guys meeting and shaking hands. That might seem simplistic but they turned it into a piece of theatre that set the whole tenure of the show.
The routines involved trust (one member falling backwards and being caught by other members, often running across the width of the stage to achieve this), support (the finale was the three of them standing on each others shoulders to form a human tower), and personal space (there were amusing moments as the guys explored each others bodies and several jumps ended up with two or more of them being very up close and personal.)
So what was it all about?
The title gives us a clue: Bromance. OK, I did have to Google it. Wikipedia had the best explanation:
A bromance is a close, emotionally intense, non-sexual bond between two (or more) men. It is an exceptionally tight affectional, homosocial male bonding relationship that exceeds that of usual friendship, that is distinguished by a particularly high level of emotional intimacy. The emergence of the concept over the past decade has been seen as reflecting a change in societal perception and interest in the theme, with an increasing openness of society in the twenty-first century to reconsider gender, sexuality, and exclusivity constraints.
The show portrayed the changing companionships between the three characters performing on stage. As they performed their moves and routines, the three men went though various dynamics with their portrayed relationships, two or them bonding together to the exclusion of the other one, recombining their affections and loyalties and revealing the changing patterns of the trio as whole. It was a gymnastic ménage à trois.
In the programme notes for tonight’s show is said: ‘What did it mean that a bunch of heterosexual men would leave circus training sessions still holding hands? What did it say about their relationships and masculinity?’
Bromance was as much captivating as it was exhilarating. The show presented an emotionally engaging portrayal of male relationships with some of the most stunning acrobatics I have sever seen. I have watched gymnasts performing (floor, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, etc.) and this is a type of sport that I can appreciate for its supreme skill. The three guys did some amazing things: at one point one of them used the back of another to do a Pommel Horse move and in a breathtaking manoeuvre one of them did a hands-free spin on the the head of Louis Gift (the biggest of the three) which drew gasps from the audience.
It is amazing what three guys can do. Three of them – a small one, a middle-sized one and a big one. That worked well in terms of the acrobatics, especially when the three of them stood on each others shoulders, one of the top of the other, a feat that drew rapturous applause from the audience. During the show all three guys were on stage together, except during a duo when Louis Gift and Beren D’Amico performed together in a scene of heart-warming togetherness.
Charlie Wheeller’s solo involved a large hoop (apparently called a Cyr Wheel) – large enough for him to span across across it, his feet on one part of the hoop and his hands on another. He rolled around the stage in it, used it to do tricks, played with it and generally showed us a range of impressive skills at using this prop, to good effect. A Cyr Wheel is a large metal ring that rotates gyroscopically as a person ‘spins’ it. It acts in a similar way to a coin/penny, but every movement and motion is caused by the person inside it, Wikipedia helpfully explains. The only other other props on the stage were three chairs which were used in one of the routines.
This was like nothing I have seen before. It’s a real shame that this was a one-off performance; I hope these guys come back to Leicester again because I for one would definitely want to see this show again. Judging from the enthusiastic response of the audience tonight, I think I am not the only one.
I am not going to get hung-up on whether it’s circus, dance or acrobatics – I just loved this show because of its breathtaking artistry and the compelling story it portrayed.