Top Banana Circus is a Community Interest Company that runs circus skill workshops in and around Portsmouth, UK. Originally founded in 2010 they have built up a core of performers that have made appearances in the local area, attending larger events and running workshops for adults and children alike.
‘Float’ is their first full show.
A show of two parts, ‘Float’ takes the audience out to sea with a display of ground-based and aerial skills. The venue was St Luke’s Church in the centre of Portsmouth.
We start with an aerial Mermaid, swimming gracefully amongst the silks, twisting and turning, rejoicing in the freedom of the ocean.
The Top Banana Circus Kids then take us to the Deep Blue Sea. Down in the depths we find seaweed, juggling silk jellyfish, crabs and other crawling creatures. As the music changes to the sinister theme from Jaws we see a uni-cycling fish chased by three peddle racer sharks.
She escapes, to cheers from the audience.
Some staff and diablo work transition to some acrobatics; where one of the children takes to the static trapeze. Two young ladies follow him, showing grace and skill in the air.
The Top Banana Kids take a bow and leave the arena to the adults, who are having a day at the beach.
A bit more involved, there is some scene setting and character work as the players arrive on the beach.
A sunny day at the beach sees our cast settle down for a relaxing time. After a display of sock poi (yes you read that correctly) the weather changes to wind, rain and thunder. The bright sunlight is lost to blue, overcast skies and lightning flashes across the scene. A man walking with a crutch gets blown about, the crutch spinning, flying through the air and around his body in a display of staff work. The crutch hits the floor and is picked up with two sticks. It is sent bouncing and spinning again.
This is followed by some club juggling.
Finishing with some strength and acrobatics our players decide to leave the cold wet and windswept beach.
Part one ends and the audience are ushered out to a hall where the trapeze acts and the circus kids encourage everyone to have a go. Also wine and popcorn!
Part two is ‘Float’ itself, a self contained performance piece where the venue itself becomes integral to the performance.
We are led back into the space through the main doors, passing the performers juggling as we move down the aisle. There are projections of sea and ships on one wall and the sound of waves and creaking timbers fills the air. While the audience is still standing the performers start clambering over the pews. Suddenly from above come the acapella voices of The Powder Monkeys singing ‘Shallow Brown’.
As this finishes the music track kicks in the a regular beat, harsh and mechanical. The cast begin to follow the beat. Finding balls, clubs, hoop and staff they fall into repetitive movements with these items. With straight forward routines they become the machine, stoic faced, thumping and grinding through life.
Somewhere in this a revelation passes through them. They become more energetic, less formulaic. The routines become more complex and the faces relax, smile even, as they realise there is more to life.
Finally they reach the front pews and the audience can now sit as the performance takes to the air. After the breakthrough comes a calm reflective phase. Three routines on the static trapeze, each skilful and graceful, give way to a routine on a single rope. Our performer twisting and tying herself in knots to achieve elegance in the air, before taking a breath taking, gasp inducing, drop head first towards the ground.
As the Powder Monkeys take up the refrain of ‘Shanty Man’ the cast reform and exit along the aisle, clambering over the pews to disappear behind a covering of smoke and light.
The whole performance was atmospheric and skilfully produced and left me wanting more.
Cirque de Banane Performance Troupe are:
Danielle, Harriet, Jack, Jade, Katie, Lale, Laura, Luke, Siobhan and Xavier
Top Banana Circus Kids
The performance was funded by The Arts Council
Songs performed by The Powder Monkeys
Music and Projection by Clare Jefferson-Jones and Paul Jones of Splodge Designs
‘Float’ was directed by Graham Shackell
Top Banana Circus in association with
Portsmouth Cultural Trust
The Wedgewood Rooms
St Luke’s Church
All photos courtesy of Phelim Rowland