What’s going on in that big black tent on the Green in Devizes? The circus is in town, circus noir – if there was never such a genre, there is now.
There’s popcorn scattered over the black stage along with broken manakin limbs. A gaunt Italian chap in briefs is awkwardly navigating a double-headed unicycle contraption, of sorts, while an acrobat tinkles on a piano with a sewing machine on top; not your standard performance in Devizes by any stretch of the imagination.
If it’s DOCA’s aim to present us with the bizarre for the fortnight of festivities, it’s scored high with My Lakita’s Popcorn Machine.
There is a popcorn machine popping while the clown-like guy plays dead next to it and the acrobats examine him with discontent. The relevance of the popcorn machine ends there, but the relevance of any element in this show to another is vague and in question. If there is theatrical narrative it’s little more than the three girls tussling over the affections of the clown-like guy, or else scrapping him.
Acutely executed acrobatics are choreographed as mock fighting sequences, the single most marvellous hair-pulling you’re ever likely to see. At one point it results in one girl balancing the other upside down on her head…while taking a slap in the face from the girl atop, naturally.
If Marcel Duchamp did circus, it may have looked a little like this; it’s black Eurotrash comedy, Cabaret Voltaire, avant-garde acrobatics and quirky surreal clowning, but with precision timing it’s hilarious.
Closest definition is circus but with all cliché abandoned along with smiles, jollity and neon. This is dark, often violent slapstick like a Tex Avery cartoon of yore. The performers look blankly at you, then whirl amazing ragdoll acrobatics. The man is the only to break the fourth wall, with a childlike innocence and spoof operatic; an electric guitar thrown in for good measure.
In short, this show is uniquely tremendous and unlike anything you’ll see, especially here in Devizes. If you relish nonsensical, Pythonesque humour, crave alternative acrobatics you have to go see it. If not, and you’re only heading inside the tent because of the rain, you’ll be in for a shock. I was left aghast, pondering did I enjoy that, I think I did…or did I? Yeah, no, defo, I did!
Running until Monday 27th August only, tickets are £12, £10 concessions, for a 7:30 start: Book here.