Review: Lexicon, Roundhouse

If you’re looking for something a little different this January to combat the post-Christmas blues, NoFitState’s Lexicon could be just the thing. Returning to London’s Roundhouse following the success of Bianco in 2013, NoFitState’s latest show offers a contemporary take on traditional circus acts and brings to life a world of ‘misfits, magic, music and laughter’.

Lexicon opens in an old-fashioned classroom where a tightrope-walking schoolteacher looks down on his pupils. As soon as he’s out of sight, all hell breaks loose as the schoolchildren get up to mischief – the classroom is dismantled as desks are hoisted into the air and rules are broken, and what follows is a show packed full of mischief and mayhem. Award-winning director Firenza Guidi has woven together a creative show full of magic, where a number of performance artists showcase their talents while a live band, featuring some of the performers themselves, adds to the spectacle and creates an electric atmosphere.

Over the course of two hours music, dance, acrobatics and comedy come together to create an entertaining show with comedy at its heart. Davide Salodini impresses as he plays the clarinet while balancing on a walking globe, every now and then threatening to fall off or career into a pole; while fire juggler Luke Hallgarten does all manner of tricks but keeps setting himself and his surroundings alight. There are jaw-dropping moments of course, with thanks to swinging trapeze artist Lyndall Merry who has to be seen to be believed, Luca Morrocchi whose Chinese pole act will leave you on the edge of your seat, and slack rope expert Vilhelmiina Sinervo as she manages to do the splits on what looks like a washing line. What makes Lexicon so impressive is that it takes traditional circus acts to the next level. Biscuit-eating school ‘geek’ Sam Goodburn dresses himself while riding a unicycle, and later increases his difficulty as he attempts a trick involving a line of glasses; and tightrope walker Ellis Grover has the audience on the edge of their seats with his incredible act involving kicking back on a chair mid-air. The performers even live together as they travel in the tented tradition and the trust between them is evident as they work together, look out for one another during routines and even throw each other across the stage. In between the more ‘thrilling’ acts, while they’re rigging up the next performance there’s a lot of fun with acrobats, cyclists, pranksters and even foot juggling (thanks to Rosa-Maria Autio). London’s Roundhouse provides the perfect setting for such a show, with some performers even in amongst the audience at times, but occasionally there’s so much going on that it’s hard to know where to look next.

There are odd moments, particularly during the second act, where there’s a lull between the more ‘breathtaking’ acts and the show’s pacing suffers as a result. But while there is no strong storyline throughout, that doesn’t detract from the sheer talent on stage, and even the smaller tricks are still likely to impress. A celebration of the past and future of circus, Lexicon is a spirited and imaginative show that provides fun for all the family and is sure to dazzle.

Lexicon is playing at the Roundhouse until 18 January. 

Photo credit: David Lavene 

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