Knock Off
Three High Acrobatics @ Gluttony – Excess Theatre
10:45pm, Sun 26 Feb 2012
I like talking to other people in the audience. Not during the performance, of course – that would be stupidly rude. But in queues, at bars, whatever… I love hearing what they’ve seen and, more importantly, what they’ve enjoyed. And, on the Fringe’s opening weekend, there was one show that seemed to pop up a bit in conversation – Knock Off.
Now, I’d already circled Knock Off in the Guide, but a short run and tricky timeslots had me convinced that I might have to let the show slip by… but, after my previous show ran shorter than scheduled, I scooted down to Gluttony hoping to get there in time.
I made it. And I’m so glad that I did.
Knock Off is performed by three NICA graduates (Sam Aldham, Taka Seki, and Chris Carlos) who adopt the persona of renovation experts, instantly familiar from their television proliferation in recent years. They use the tools of the DIY set – hammers, ladders, and a crash mat decorated as a garden bed – to facilitate a high energy acrobatic set.
There’s also a thread of a love story, and a meta-demonstration of the eleven steps to creating your own contemporary circus performance.
These nested threads, ostensibly trying to justify a bunch of circus tricks, could have been overkill, a thematic mess; instead, it just totally works.
Knock Off stands out from the crowd through almost faultless direction. The pace of the show is relentless, with a brilliant flow between acts; nothing outstays its welcome, and even when I thought that they’d hit a flat spot – a trouble-laden opening to the hoops routine – the finale of that segment more than made up for it. Hammer juggling, spectacular broom spinning, Taka’s weird spinning display… it’s all spot-on the money, and absolutely compelling.
The almost-token aerial work is still a delight (helped out by the aforementioned garden-bed crash mat), there’s a frankly inexplicable boy band dance routine, and some innovative chair dancing. And through it all, there’s the persistent presence of humour (some of the “awkward pauses” were brilliantly timed), and the guys really work the crowd… not that they had to, since a fair chunk of the pretty sizeable audience were performers who cheered (and gasped!) with enthusiasm.
Look – I can’t say enough good things about Knock Off. These guys really know their circus work, but they’ve also got a great sense of the theatrical, as well; coupled with sterling direction, you wind up with a stunningly effective feel-good show that left me amazed… and grinning like a loon.