Reviewed – 24th January 2019
“Ellie Dubois has directed a piece that’s highly entertaining and engaging”
I’ve seen musicals, I’ve seen plays about human relationships and other key themes, but never have I seen a piece centred around acrobatics and circus performance. No Show claims to reveal “what lies hidden beneath the showmanship” of the circus industry from the points of view of five young women.
From the outset, the five performers are personable and engage well with the audience, directly addressing us and making eye contact. They’re likeable and it’s easy to be intrigued as to what they’re going to present to us.
Throughout the piece, we are introduced to each performer and their personal skills. Camille Toyer begins by showing off her skills on a Cyr Wheel, a large metal ring she spins and displays various tricks in. As she does this, another performer explains the dangers Camille faces as she performs in the wheel, from the possibility of broken feet and toes, to being knocked unconscious. Gasps from the audience can be heard as the many hazards are explained and yet Camille continues to perform effortlessly and with the upmost skill.
Alice Gilmartin takes to the stage with a microphone, attempting to welcome the audience to the show, only to be stopped by her fellow performers and told to do a handstand and later “more difficult” tricks. This could be said to be an attempt to highlight the idea that circus performers are just there to entertain and wow audiences, nothing more.
Kate McWilliam proves herself to be a talented acrobat and has a degree in circus arts, but reveals the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated profession and that she is often told “you’re good, for a girl”. Francesca Hyde, who skilfully plays the accordion at various points in the piece, presents a daring display involving her topknot hairstyle being attached to a harness and her then counterbalancing with a water container and gracefully spinning around the stage. This proved a highlight of the piece and definitely needs to be seen to be believed! Lastly, Michelle Ross reveals that her special skill involves a trapeze, which can’t be demonstrated in the relatively small theatre space. She nevertheless gives an accomplished, entertaining performance throughout the piece.
More than anything, No Show is a demonstration of the sheer talent of the five young women. We gain an insight into what is usually portrayed as quite a glamorous profession, learning of its physical dangers and strains on performers, as well as social challenges. No Show could perhaps benefit from a clearer overall focus at times, but Ellie Dubois has directed a piece that’s highly entertaining and engaging.
Reviewed by Emily K Neal
Photography by Chris Reynolds
Soho Theatre until 9th February
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: