Moto Mania

Feature in Issue 14-3 | Autumn 2002

Can British circus hack it? Bill Brookman says yes – having seen Swamp Circus' Moto II show.

Agatha Christie said that there were only six basic plots in novel writing. Non text-based theatre seems limited to only one: a free spirit is captured by a bunch of ghouls. She sees all their tricks (as do we), then achieves some sort of cathartic apotheosis. Circus is so difficult. Perfecting one skilled performance can take up all of an artist's life. So when Swamp Circus performs a narrative show, stock acts are slotted in and the cast prays that the story will flow. These are my only teeny moans about Swamp Circus's brilliant production Moto II (described by the company as 'radical acrobatic theatre’) which I saw at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

Swamp Circus has had a long hard road to perform in a main house theatre. Brett Jackson, first-among-equals and Artistic Director of the collective company, had eyes which seemed to say ‘it has taken me so long to get here – was it all worth it?' I suspect he was exhausted. It was worth it – well done, Brett. The five-ball juggling by Big Grey was almost too effortless; I thought it must only be four balls and had to quickly count them. The double aerial silk performance by Michele Laine and Jane Osborne is world standard. There was not one weak performer. The Crucible managed to get fire permitted on stage! That's one in the eye for the litigation slugs. When will we finally shift the perception in Britain that you have to be foreign to be good at circus? Swamp Circus are shovelling as hard as they can – don't give up!

See for details of the company's future plans.


This article in the magazine

Issue 14-3
p. 4