Gandini Juggling/ Patfield & Triguero: Gibbon

Chris Patfield and Jose Triguero (the choreographers and performers of this show, produced under the auspices of Gandini Juggling) chatter, then they juggle, then they chatter some more, and then they juggle some more – thus goes the structure for Gibbon. When they talk with one another, they do so in a slightly hushed tone, as if they don’t care too much whether the audience hears them or not. They briefly talk about what juggling sequences they’ll do next, and sometimes wipe the sweat from their brows. Although the casual tone is as far away from the spectacle one might associate with the ever-so-niche category of dance juggling, it is warm and open, and engages the audience in a down-to-earth, domestic manner. These candid sections with Patfield and Triguero establish a sense of neutrality that helps maintain the overall rhythm of the performance, as it moves in and out of the heightened realities created by the sections of hypnotic ball throwing.

The above-mentioned mesmerising sections of the performance are the product of balls, sweat and music. Balls are tossed between bodies unfurling and contorting around one another, whilst soundscapes of drops of water (by Benji Bouton and Kevin Toublant) echo through the room. Balls are caught in synchronisation to irregular drops of water with a split-second specificity that is massively satisfying to witness. All this movement is exaggerated by Guy Dickens’ lighting design which blasts the space with colour, eradicating everything from sight, apart from the jugglers and the balls that are trailing through the air.

After a blisteringly complex and impressive sequence is established, elements are stripped away: arms continue moving as though there were still things to catch – even though some balls have been removed from the mix – and the distance between the performers is reduced to none, balls are thrown through legs, and arms stretch out behind backs. With small adaptations to some of its parts, Gibbon, as a whole, switches from ballet-like elegance to wild, animal-like (monkey-like, even) levels of contortion.

Daringly navigating Gibbon’s choreography, Patfield and Triguero sweat their way towards accomplishment. As we watch them achieve the incredible, the sense of risk inherent in any juggling act underscores their physical transformations into these monkey-like – no, gibbon-like – creatures. The sense of purpose this creates in them allows their human behaviour to transition organically into that of animals. This is assisted by the sense of play and companionship between the two gibbons, which also glosses the entire performance in charm and charisma, whether they be diving towards the floor to catch a rogue ball or passing a communal sweat towel to one another. Exploring human behaviour, Gibbon combines dance, juggling and sound to create a theatrical experience that is engaging as an experiment as well as a journey of endurance.




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About Ciaran Hammond

Ciaran Hammond is an actor, director, writer and theatre maker with a background in devised theatre. Ciaran works with absurdist theatre makers LoudGround (UK) as an associate artist, and is a founding member of physical theatre company, Romantika (SWE/UK). Ciaran has a BA(Hons) in European Theatre Arts from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, and also trained at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre as an actor. Ciaran is interested in collaborative methods of theatre making, and is drawn towards the weird and wonderful. He also does a little bit of juggling.