Risk and investment. As Tim Etchells once wrote those two things are the main components of a good performance. At Bianco you have both in abundance.
As the audience gathers around a few white constructions it is made clear to us that we have to play along, to move with the performance as guided. This sparks excitement in me, it’s a bold move and can easily distract from the performers, but if done well can add a whole new level to the experience. In this case it is the latter. Though not interactive as such, the simple task of being part of rearranging the performance space helps make us feel like we’re all in this together, all as responsible for no one getting hurt. This is Bianco’s biggest strength, the feeling of togetherness and the possibility that the proximity to the performers might be too much. Yet you never feel endangered. It is a tightrope walk, but they walk it with dignity.
There is no doubt from the first moment that this is an ensemble show, here are no primadonnas. Everyone from the bar staff to the band chips in to make this world come alive, mutate and get rearranged to fit each act. The fact that you can see each new set being formed by the company is a fascinating feature that sets NoFit State apart from other circus companies and gives Bianco an authenticity that any circus should strive for.
This communal world consists of everyday objects just stylized enough to intrigue, a mix of seemingly discarded costumes and specialised gear. It doesn’t look like much at first but will surprise you later. The performers catch our attention by building up a buzz, climbing the scaffolding that makes up the set, calling at each other, dancing around. The room seems to vibrate around us as the show starts and doesn’t stop (apart from the interval) for two hours.
If there is a coherent narrative to Bianco it was lost on me, but I did not miss it. It works wonderfully as interwoven string of events, an assortment of characters and emotion. Most of the acts are high risk aerial acrobatics but the more low key performances are what makes Bianco more than a collection of stunts. A big part of bringing everything together is the perfectly composed music which the performers all have a hand in. A carefully constructed show, each part builds on the other and the second half simply oozes charm and innovation. With breathtaking moments, warm ensemble feel and great craftsmanship Bianco is not to be missed.
Bianco, Here Be Dragons by No Fit State is on until 25th August, various times. More information.