A game of blind-man’s-buff, the sound of a distorted music box, rubber glove feet, and a great big cry of cock-a-doodle doo. Welcome into the world three batty birds, emerging blinking into the light, ready for the call of nature – no, not that call, the call to freeze, fight or flight.
It’s a perfect theme for a circus show – yes, we’ve seen a number of circus bird shows – the Mamaloucos epic retelling of Aristophanes’ The Birds springs immediately to mind – but there’s room in the world for another, especially one this skilled and funny.
3 is a Crowd is a new all-female ensemble of ‘seasoned circus artists’ – Bianca Mackail, Olivia Porter and Rockie Stone – who hail from Australia and thus (inevitably I suppose) have connections with Circa. Fright or Flight is their first show and comes to the Edinburgh Fringe trailing clowds of glory, having won the Best Circus and Physical Theatre Award at Adelaide Fringe Festival 2013.
Imagine a cross between the three-woman acrobatic team Mimbre and the three-man ‘theatre of engineering’ company Akhe. Yes, they like to make a mess; yes they swap basing and flying merrily in a fabulous show of female strength. But with gorgeous aerial work thrown in (circ, rope), and some very nifty juggling.
Eggs feature (of course), as do a clutch of very lovely little wind-up chicks. There is harmony, and there is bullying. There is walking on bottles and there is a daft paper-bag whole body mask. There are tomboy birdies who won’t grow up (not me!) and there are burlesque birdies with light-up vanity cases, feather pasties, and gold shoes. There is more than one very stupid chicken suit, and there is the birdie song in German!
It’s all fantastically funny and clever, but there are also some soft and gentle moments – cue Antony and the Johnsons: ‘Bird girls can fly…’
These three have certainly found their wings, taking the impressive skills they’ve honed and developed with Circa and using them to create something idiosyncratic and unique. A gorgeous show – bravo!