Tag Archives: CircusFest 2018

The Bekkrell Effect – 3 Stars


The Bekkrell Effect

Camden Roundhouse

Reviewed – 19th April 2018


“some elegant tableaux and whimsical comedy”


The circus comes to Camden Town! Away from the traditional clowns and lions, displays of acrobatic skills are becoming ever more prevalent and popular. As part of CircusFest at the Roundhouse, the all-female Groupe Bekkrell present their take on the discovery of radioactivity (Henri Becquerel, 1896) with acrobatics, humour, transient lighting and enveloping sound. In ‘The Bekkrell Effect’, four women explore the decomposition of the atom, creating instability and chaos, yet producing shapes and patterns. In the beginning, we see form and formality, the artists in unison, but, progressively, the four disperse. Together, but individually, they create scenes, sights and stunts with their four specialities – Fanny Sintès (rope), Sarah Cosset (Chinese mast), Louisa Wruck (tightrope), Chloé Derrouaz (tumbling). The mood of their first entrance, the costumes and the opening music take an unconventional stance on the typically colourful big top experience and we are gradually drawn into the mechanics of the show and the personalities and relationships within the troupe.

A superior sound system at the Roundhouse allows the audience to immerse itself in Thomas Laigle’s original, dramatic soundtrack. It is imaginatively designed around patches of silence and a light touch of clowning from the inventive speech technique. The lighting (Clément Bonnin) is integrated into the unstable nature of the spectacle. The lights themselves move around the stage, changing position and angles in coordination with the action, though still spotlighting and dimming to build anticipation in the customary fashion. However, it is uncertain whether the manual change of filters is an intentional addition to the turmoil or consequence of the mobility. In keeping with the idea of falling apart, the costumes cleverly mutate from austere dress to diverse combinations as the four women’s personalities emerge.

‘The Bekkrell Effect’ sets out to represent the idea of constant movement and energy and show how the impression of chaos can be beautiful from afar. It brings together pleasing, artistic work, especially on the Chinese mast and rope, some elegant tableaux and whimsical comedy. The clashes of personality come across well and both the opening and closing poses are visually striking, but the level of stunts is underwhelming. The preparation of equipment incorporated into the show often takes too long and, with only the outline of an idea to follow, expectancy fades. Clearly, this is not a traditional circus format and the depiction of turmoil implies a lack of shape, but even from a distance the show needs more discernible structure and a slicker pace to make it an explosion of energetic radioactivity.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography by Massao Mascaro


The Bekkrell Effect

Camden Roundhouse until 22nd April


Also part of CircusFest
Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine | ★★★★★ | Camden Roundhouse | April 2018


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Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine – 5 Stars


Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine

Camden Roundhouse

Reviewed – 5th April 2018


“effortless and joyful, with moments of childlike wonder and some truly memorable set pieces”


Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine is the latest show from Pirates of the Carabina, a company that specialises in ‘theatrical, highly technical circus with a very strong live music ethos.’ It is also the opening show in the Roundhouse’s CircusFest.

The performance is wonderfully gripping, with moments of comedy and vignettes of relationships interspersed among the flying, spinning thrills of the circus. This is circus for today. There are no glittering leotards, red-nosed clowns or blustering ring masters. Instead we have an ensemble of incredible performers and multi-talented musicians. We see how the performers rise and drop on the ropes and silks, counter-balanced by the strong woman and man who climb up and down the structures with incredible speed. It’s like seeing the ballet behind the skill, the people on the spinning ropes twinned with their partners, safe in their strong hands.

Here we have trapeze, hoops, tightrope and some fantastic clowning. James Williams’ direction has skillfully moulded all the elements into what feels like a surreal series of small stories, so that we really want the, apparently incompetent, tightrope walker to succeed, the ’drunk’ girl to manage to climb the stairs. The performers have well developed characters, and they also join the musicians, singing and playing instruments. The lighting, designed by James Loudon, is evocative and beautiful, especially in the build up to the finale, and Barnz Munn’s set design is a marvel of flexible elements, moved and repurposed by the performers throughout the show. Music also plays an important part, with original music, composed by Meg Ella, James Williams and the Company, being more than just a backdrop to the action.

The whole thing seems effortless and joyful, with moments of childlike wonder and some truly memorable set pieces. The first hoop performance made me think of the iconic 1923 ‘Girl in the Moon’ photograph, and the antics on the ‘very temperamental staircase’ had the audience howling with laughter.

I do wonder why the show is called ‘Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine.’ The title had me expecting a driving mechanical feel, not the lovely, playful, gentle joy of the evening. This is a very human circus that will sweep you along with all the thrills that you expect, and wrap you in a magical world for the evening.

The performers are Meg Ella, Jack Rees, Shaena Brandel, Ellis Grover, Seren Corrigan, Eric Mcgill, Barnz Munn, Jade Dunbar, Alfie Horn and Alik Peters-Deacon.They all deserve mention here, a truly talented ensemble.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Ollie Millington


Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine

Camden Roundhouse until 15th April



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