By a Thread | One Fell SwoopStrongly choreographed and tightly presented celebration of circus and aerial skills.

A team of bright, fit performers deliver a non-stop focussed parade of circus artistry, using only their nominal “thread” – a 30 metre long rope.

Entering from all angles, each artist introduced in a new manner, By a Thread is marked by tight ensemble co-operation throughout. Rejecting facile gimmicks to develop individual “characters”, each acrobat instead demonstrates and delights in and with their own particular strengths and moments in the spotlight. The simple premise, the single rope tying the performance together, is anything but simple in its presentation. Exploring the versatility of this single prop, assisted by pulleys, rigging and playful imaginative innovations, performers take turns in solo and pair work to showcase tightly choreographed, rapidly shifting and evolving routines. Interspersed by whole ensemble interactions with the rope and each other, individual skills are highlighted in the hour of intensely focussed, dynamic display.

Defying gravity, a human staircase triumphs as the rope moves from a device to “pull” comrades onto the stage through the rear curtain to a hanging promise dangling from the overhead fixtures. From a game of mis-matched tug of war, the rope becomes the key to stunning aerobatic displays. In silence, with some light-hearted physical conflicted but not indulging in gratuitous slapstick clowning, all eyes are transfixed to the seemingly casual ease of strong gymnastic rope climbing of each performer, whether braced by the team grasping the hanging end or nonchalantly swinging using a fellow climbing companion as a counterweight as they each saunter upwards. Performing feats usually associated with the grace and style of tissu, they playfully “fight” for position in a deft balancing act as they climb and spin and swing. In clever counterpoint, floor work away from the rope and using it as a skipping rope gives both performers and audience respite from multiple gravity defying feats.

Music and lighting assist the evolving progress of By a Thread, creating subtle episodic turns in the slick display of high-level circus skills. Balletic in its clear technical precision, the only possible criticism is that it may be a little too perfect with every part of each routine executed smoothly and with a confident finish. The apparent physical ease and relaxed smile and pose that conclude each performer’s contribution can lead to the audience becoming blasé about the advanced skills on show. Having said that, it’s impressive to see circus performers unapologetically eschewing contrived “near misses” to highlight their abilities, simply bringing the performance to the audience and leaving it to the crowd to appreciate the strength, timing and artistic merits for themselves.

Entertaining, respectfully serious work of high quality circus skills, By a Thread brings a unique depth to the heights of aerobatic display.


One Fell Swoop presents
By a Thread

Venue: Big Top at The Pleasure Garden | James St, Northbridge WA
Dates: 12 – 25 February 2018

 Part of Perth FringeWorld 2018


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