Reviewed – 6th August 2019
“Amico, Gift and Wheeller radiated charisma and charm, while performing acrobatic tricks that pushed the human body to the extreme”
This is a thrilling exploration of how far platonic friendship can stretch, quite literally, between a group of men. Barely Methodical Troupe’s production of ‘Bromance’ uses circus skills, gymnastics and a variety of dance styles to paint a complex portrayal of masculine friendship. This three-hander displays the immense talents of Beren D’Amico, Louis Gift and Charlie Wheeller equally, playing to each of their strengths.
The directorial (Eddie Kay) decision to keep dialogue to a minimum was welcome, as it allowed the physicality of the actors to speak for itself. The dynamic use of minimal set, spotlights and atmospheric music further put the focus on the performers. Amico, Gift and Wheeller radiated charisma and charm, while performing acrobatic tricks that pushed the human body to the extreme. A particular highlight was Wheeler’s segment in which he formed a Catherine wheel, which resulted in explosive applause. The performers appeared to defy gravity, moving in formation like synchronised swimmers – it was mesmerising. Audible gasps spread round the audience as Gift was flung like a javelin through the air.
However, underlying the impressive moves was a more tender story, that occasionally got lost amid the audience’s fascinations with the tricks. ‘Bromance’ touches the surface of current ‘hot topics’ such as the toxicity of hyper-masculinity. This is shown when in turn, each of the performers has a moment of being unable to control their feelings, or deal with those of their co-performers. In a way, it seems ironic that the emotional side of the story is overshadowed by the physical aspect of the stunts. While the flips and tricks were spectacular, I would argue that some of the strongest moments of this piece were in the small gestures of friendship extended between the cast – an arm around the shoulder or a tight hug.
This is a very close company, who have rehearsed tirelessly to put on such a slick and innovative production. While all the performers were dressed the same, they each brought a unique set of circus skills and characters to the table. Throughout the performance, there are constant moments of comedy, exposing the tragic humour of trying and failing to live up to society’s expectations of ‘masculinity’. Prolonged periods of awkward silence are counterbalanced with one performer breaking the mould completely and embarrassing himself. Kay’s direction of this was clear as he played with the extreme boundaries of ‘what is deemed acceptable’ between a group of male friends.
This engaging show is laced with moments of humour and intimacy. It is an important addition to the topical debate surrounding ideas of gender.
Reviewed by Emily Morris
Photography by Chris Nash
Assembly Rooms until 25th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019