The Ramshackle House
Stratford Circus Arts Centre
Reviewed – 7th December 2017
“with minimal words, it is through our performers’ bodies that we follow this charmingly humorous story”
The Ramshackle House may not be the most festive show you see this yuletide, however it will certainly be one of the most heart-warming, possessing a sense of Christmas spirit and cheer. The Stratford Circus Arts Centre adorned the theatre with fairy lights and lamps, giving off a cosy, Christmassy glow; yet it was the show’s core theme of friendship that really radiated the true values of Christmas.
The Ramshackle House is a production that is geared up for children and young audiences, but in spite of this, it is 45 minutes that the whole family will enjoy. Upswing have brought their ground-breaking concept of Circus Theatre, applying their multi-disciplinary skills of aerial, dance, music and theatre into a display that anyone, of any age, can admire and appreciate.
Set on the slanted roof of an odd looking house, we meet a character (Renato Dias) who seems content in life. His path crosses with a lady (Delia Ceruti) living near by, and they come to discover that living together they are able to accomplish a lot more. As they begin to become more comfortable in each other’s presence, the surprise arrival of the third character (Matthew Smith), stuck in the chimney, creates a new set of complications. As space grows to be an issue, our three amigos, start to build a new home upon the roof, yet this creates its own set of issues. Between battling with the weather and also with one another, it looks unlikely that they will have a home ready for Christmas, but, with the power of acceptance and adapting to others to make space, our three characters end satisfied with the home they have constructed and the friendships they have built.
Told with minimal words, it is through our performers’ bodies that we follow this charmingly humorous story. As imaginative as this was to behold, there were certainly times where I felt that the spectacle of impressive aerial skills was given precedence over the story telling, which would get a little blurred as to what was actually going on. You can always rely on the children in the audience to give a vocal, instinctive response to what they see, and as one little girl behind me said, as she watched the one character accomplish a wonderful series of aerial moves on an elevated square hoop; “why’s he doing that?” There were moments within the show where Upswing failed to make their accomplished movements relevant or progress the story forward, which was the only thing keeping them from making this outstanding.
Pushing these few issues to the side, this was still a delightful show. The set design from Becky Minto was incredibly inventive – on par with the originality coming from the performers. With a Christmas tree made out of lamps, falling snow and fairy lights, this unusual Christmas truly looked magical. In its own way, The Ramshackle House made me leave with a readiness for Christmas Day, excited for when I can be with friends and family, prepared to argue, accept and adapt in a similar way presented in the show.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Photography by Mark Robson
The Ramshackle House
is at Stratford Circus Arts Centre until 24th December