No Such Thing As Normal
Off the Wall @ Gluttony – Excess Theatre
5:45pm, Tue 28 Feb 2012
After seeing the Off the Wall troupe on my visit to the Festival Fishbowl, I was more-than-curious as to how they’d perform – especially given the fact that one of their number was on crutches. Unfortunately, that curiosity didn’t seem to be shared by the public-at-large – there would’ve only been a dozen paying punters at this show, only just doubling the number of performers (five female, one male).
It’s a gentle opening, with one of the girls playing an upbeat version of Another Brick in the Wall on the ukelele; the rest of the troupe – who are all under the age of eighteen, with many still in school – wandering onstage in their school uniforms. Thereafter comes a collection of circus vignettes tied together with short snippets of cute and enthusiastically-delivered dialogue, addressing the shyness of youth and the quest for identity within the confines of school.
And whilst the theatrics lack a little polish in their delivery, the acrobatics more than make up for it. There’s the requisite tumbles and flips and balance pieces (and even a touch of corde lisse and aerial silk), but Off the Wall create some really clever segments that use the wide space of the Excess well. There’s a sliding and tumbling act based in a classroom, using tables and chairs as surfaces and supports, and there’s a great balance act that sees the entire cast wobbling atop two ladders.
But the real surprise in No Such Thing As Normal is the choreography. As I discovered when I chatted to the kids later in the week, they created the entire show themselves, and the manner in which they move around stage really is a joy to behold: first and foremost, they’ve made sure that there’s always something dynamic, something flashy going on… even if it’s something as trivial as a comedic headphone entanglement. Your attention is not allowed time to wander.
And that’s a great thing to see. While the Off the Wall troupe may lack strength and maturity in their physicality, they possess a great eye for keeping the audience entertained… and No Such Thing As Normal certainly manages to do just that, in a cheeky, family-friendly, and engaging manner.