Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Circus can sometimes fall into the trap of allowing spectacle and skill to take centre stage at the expense of clear narrative. Not so with Square Peg Circus’ adaptation of Coleridge’sThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
The epic narrative poem provides a sure footing for this inventive company to overlay a mix of acrobatics, aerial work, circus, mime, clowning and dance to create the expected visual treat but with a surprisingly gripping plot.
As sea shanties and seagulls play in the background the company set about recreating the journey of the eponymous mariner, his troubled voyages and the wealth of characters he encounters.
Forget donning special glasses at a cinema, Rime is the true definition of 3D entertainment with action taking place across and above the stage, the simple frame staging transforming into the rigging of a sailing ship and providing a multi-level adventure playground for the fearless company.
As the voyage progresses we are treated to an impressive array of feats that seem to defy the limits of the human body and at times the laws of gravity. There’s so much happening that the eye is in constant fear of missing something.
Haunting folk songs weave in and out alongside a pulsating score that conjures up a complete land and seascape in the audiences mind.
Performers Tim Lenkiewicz, Antonio Harris, Nikki Rummer, Jean-Daniel Brousse, Rosamond Martin, Isabelle Schuster, Tomos James and Hege Eriksdatter-Ostefjells give the perfect example of how a true ensemble should work. Stepping centre stage when required before slipping back to provide seamless support. With the ever present danger these feats present, it’s clear this is a company entirely attune to each other who trust each other implicitly.
It’s a trust that is needed as the piece builds to a frenetic climax. At only an hour there’s enough here to keep audiences of all ages enthralled; younger folk will revel in the visual while older members will find much to enjoy in the adaptation of Coleridge’s classic. There is, in fact, so much to please both eye and ear that this is a show that could easily repay a second viewing. Familiar with Coleridge or not, Rime is a voyage very much worth taking.
Runs until 17 May and continues to tour | Photo Steve Eggleton