Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Hang On - Lyric Hammersmith

Hang On
Created by Theatre-Rites and Ockham’s Razor
Director Sue Buckmaster
Reviewer: Honour Bayes

A family show that actually pleases parents, children and cosmopolitan ‘friends’ alike? Surely this doesn’t exist without the Disney seal of approval. But if you want to take all your extended family along to one show this year, take them to see Hang On at the Lyric Hammersmith. Tumbling along through a delicately balanced mobile of Charlie Chaplin charm and virtuoso circus play, this piece will lift one and all above the mundane into a world of infinite and childlike possibility where everything that can be possible, is.

Theatre-Rites and Ockham’s Razor have come together to create a spine tingling and joyous show which feels a bit like a crazy mathematics lecture, a bit like a piece of contemporary dance and a bit like a circus performance with a dollop of intensely beautiful minimalistic art and music.

Eric MacLennan, Stefano Di Renzo, Alex Harvey, Tina Koch, Nao Masuda and Charlotte Mooney enter the stage with a spring in their step and proceed to turn small metal hangers into, massive spinning mobiles and tiny, and not so tiny, red orbs into xylophones and drums. Fully realising Theatre-Rites’ interest in object-lead work, each item used has its potential magic revealed and exploded to the delight of this very vocal and immediate audience. Hang On is performed not only to a score of delicate tubular music and pounding drum beats, but also to the tinkling of children’s giggles and the gasps of adult appreciation.

The cast all bring their own special something to the stage. With his feet firmly on the floor Eric’s cautiousness creates a well meaning, though initially overbearing, adult figure for the others to react against, albeit very kindly, with the sort of lively mischievousness that permeates all young people’s daydreams (and even some older ones too). Stefano has a thing for Tina and Nao leaps around them forming a world of sound to support their daring with a grace and agility which is stunning. Alex and Charlotte bring breathtaking strength and a kind elder-s---ibling feel to the proceedings. But amongst all this charming silliness it is clear that Eric is the solid, if a little worried, centre of the piece; each relationship perfectly balancing around his grounded presence to create a graceful mobile of musicians, aerialists, clowns and objects.

This elegant balance and fluid sense of peace, so apparent within all aspects of this production is what sets Hang On apart from other ‘circus’ shows. This essence of total calm and aesthetic beauty, inspired by Alexander Calder’s mobiles, is at times almost spiritual to watch and from the first moment that Alex, Tina and Charlotte (Ockham’s Razor) flip themselves up onto an aerial frame this piece begins to really fly. The gently comic relationships and intense pigmentation of the colours bouncing off the back wall, the nimble playing of Nao’s skillful and passionate percussion and the hanging stillness and incredible team work of the aerialists in Ockham’s Razor combines to create something of an absolute aesthetic beauty which speaks to everyone and lifts the spirits as though you were up there yourself. This is a transporting work, of which Calder himself would be proud, and a must see for anyone who still believes that even in the most normal objects there is the potential for silly fabulous splendor.

Hang on Runs at the Lyric, Hammersmith untill 25 April
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