REVIEW – Uncharted Waters, Brunton Theatre


With instructions to ‘disembark’ before the interval and a stage full of nets and rigging, the trio of performances which make up Uncharted Waters are lashed together by a nautical theme. And, with some beautiful choreography and graceful acrobatics, these waters prove to be well worth setting sail upon.

A collaboration between Edinburgh-based aerial theatre and contemporary circus groups Strangebird Zirkus and All or Nothing, the 90-minute piece brings together three performances from both companies: ranging from the light-hearted deckbound antics of Spokes, to the expressive ropework of 1,2,3 here we go… – via the surprising burlesque acrobatics of Youkali. The pieces are linked by live music and sea shanties from Dave Boyd, portraying the drunken sailor who almost seems to be hallucinating the pieces into reality.

Given that the companies have choreographed for the likes of Grid Iron and the National Theatre of Scotland, it’s no surprise to see the three aerial performers impress with their agility and skill. Lucy Deacon and Jennifer Paterson are particularly strong in this regard in Spokes, with cleverly-devised choreography around the Chinese pole and silks used to evoke the highs and lows of a life on the ocean waves. The two twirl and fly like seagulls around a ship’s mast, in an enjoyable and charming piece.

Deacon’s creative partner Moritz Linkmann presents Youkali next, a seductive little tale set to Kurt Weill’s song of the same name. Linkmann uses the pole with a muscular physicality: sometimes caressing it, at others grabbing it as if in punishment. The piece sees Linkmann’s character seek happiness in an unexpected twist which elicits a slightly unsure response from the audience, but results in a poignant and memorable segment.

Once ‘reboarded’ after the interval, the final piece is Jennifer Paterson’s solo rope performance 1,2,3, here we go. Accompanied by Jym Darling’s pulsing electronic soundtrack, she spins, slides and hangs in midair, in an interpretative performance which expresses indecision, fear and joy as her future literally hangs in the balance.

Uncharted Waters has a dreamlike quality to it, the spell of which is only slightly broken by the necessary interval during which the stage is reassembled for the third piece. But the lure of Uncharted Waters proves hard to resist and in the end it proves to be an impressive and skillful journey into enjoyably rewarding territory.

Uncharted Waters was performed at Brunton Theatre, Sep 10th

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