Before the show even starts, the members of Circa are on stage, undressing and chatting and swapping clothes. It’s instantly natural and familiar, a relationship that pervades throughout the show not just between the troupe, but with their audience. We are all Humans.

Humans takes us through an examination of the pace of our life – it embraces our physical flaws while celebrating our strengths. Circa open with rhythmic power, life freezing and unfreezing rapidly. The group are more powerful in small collectives, a fact they quickly realise and pounce upon with some impressive floor gymnastic stunts. The pent-up aggression is released as they grapple and spar with each other, capoeira style fights and tricks that leave one or both panting on the floor. More than anything, this a fast – a rush of creativity that pulls our attention left, right and centre.

Humans has no dead space, no segues that allow the audience to break focus or start fidgeting in their seats. Seamless transition pieces ensure that we remain engaged – this display of life leaves no room to check out. But it doesn’t remain high-octane throughout; like life, we have moments of apathy and laziness. As a sanguine acrobat effortlessly pulls off some hand balancing, he contrasts the muscularity and grace in his poses with an abject refusal to move between blocks by anything other than distracted nonchalance.

The ebb and flow of fast and slow continues with a fairly constant metre throughout the show, as does the idea that the troupe are stronger together than apart. This shows in other solo performances that lack drive or flair – the trapeze act feels clumsy and laboured in comparison to the fluid undercurrent of the production. However, the aerial strap work counters this with a conscious stiffness, contortionists and robotic movement showing an alternative side to our daily lives. It’s necessarily forced and as such a welcome contrast to add depth and dimension to the concept.

Some of the tricks require a redo – that’s ok because the human condition is imperfect. But it’s also capable of some wonderful feats of strength and power, exemplified by the three-high towers that are effortlessly constructed and dismantled throughout the show.

In the end, Humans grounds itself in the group’s collective identity. The specific acts themselves aren’t the most complex or acrobatically difficult, indeed there often feel times when the group have actively chosen not to push themselves to the limit. The climaxes in the accompanying soundtrack are not often  complemented with matching climaxes in circus technique. But the attitude of the performers is contagious, full on conviction and ultimately genuine – this display of heart makes up for the moments that aren’t as astounding as they could be.

 

★★★☆☆

Humans plays Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 28 August 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.