S. Circa.

Circa's S at Canberra Theatre is a remarkable show of spectacular physical feats

It was a breathy but theatrical beginning to S, the latest show from Brisbane-based company Circa. A single performer, centre stage under a single globe of light, contorted her body into a series of incredible shapes. Her moves were accompanied by the recorded sound of in- and exhalation. The seven circus artists making up the company then swung into an evening of carefully choreographed, spectacular physical feats.

The first section of the show consisted of acrobatics, tumbling and contortions. While the moves were all remarkable, what makes Circa such a fascinating company is the way in which the performers work together. Trust between them is essential as they throw themselves across the stage and are caught by their colleagues, balance precariously against each other’s bodies, and use each other as launching pads. What eventuates as they progress through their various manoeuvres is a series of extraordinary patterns made by combining bodies in extraordinary ways.

A spectacular display of the use of hula hoops followed. Jessica Connell’s ability to manipulate a collection of electric blue hoops was exceptional. At times she wore around six of them at once moving them from her ankles to her neck and spinning them so fast that they lost their definition and became a blur of blue.

Next came a show of aerial work performed on ropes suspended from the flies, with the ropes often shrouded in strips of black fabric. There was a certain sense of mystery to this section as bodies became encased in the fabric.

The aerial display was followed by a humorous encounter between two performers, in which one had his body, and at one stage his mouth, mik-ed up so that every move between him and his partner was audible. And some of those encounters were quite powerful, giving off a frighteningly loud sound of bodily impact.

The final section was an example of balance. Every performer worked with a small glass bowl filled with water and, while continuing to create unbelievable and aesthetically pleasing human formations, including several pyramids of bodies, managed to balance the bowls of water on heads, feet, shoulders or hands.

The show was performed on a diamond-shaped, slightly raised platform and the appearance on occasions of a half screen as background, lit in strong colours, provided a visual contrast to the black, body-hugging costumes worn by the performers. The show was performed to music from Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen and the Kronos Quartet. The evening was a truly remarkable display of stamina and physical endeavour made into an exciting evening of theatre.

Canberra Theatre, until August 9.