Entering the space at the Artsdepot, Finchley you are instantly greeted by Claude – played by George Fuller – acting as the restaurant manager. He calls the attention of one of the performers playing waiters who shows you to your table. The layout of the space is cleverly utilised to aid their intention of including the audience in the performance, there are tables throughout the space interjected with aerial equipment as well as a large open area fairly central to the space, on the right hand side of which is the bar of “Claude’s” and the entrance to and from the kitchen.
Facade is a circus-theatre experience which eliminates the borders between the performers and the audience including an intimate and theatrical three course meal in which stories unfold in thrilling ways, encircling you as you dine. Become enthralled as the Crashmat performers spin, swing and serve at your table, absorbing you into their world, where anything is possible and their innermost secrets are exposed. Entrancing, funny and mind-boggling, this show is a feast for the senses, as well as the appetite! Crashmat Collective is a Circus Theatre Company that aims to blur the boundaries between spectator and performer, created by Paul Evans and performer Anna Sandreuter, Crashmat was forged out of their desire to create original work.
The complete commitment to character that the whole cast demonstrated was faultless – from entering the space being shown your table, then being brought your delicious food by different performers, to their individual moments on their own apparatus. The employment of multiple characters really aided the premise of the show – or what I conceived to be the premise. Additionally, the range of characters portrayed -although some stereotypical – was a nice mix creating an interesting group dynamic when it came to the issues of the group.
The piece cleverly utilised the pre-recorded voices of the artists throughout the show during their solo moments reflecting their inner thoughts alluding us to their characters and intentions. This aided the overall performance as it added the mystery to the show juxtaposed with the bold and frivolous nature of which the performers were physically interacting with us as an audience. Similarly, the use of popular culture songs for the solo artist moments created a contrastingly comfortable feel for the audience – due to the knowledge of the songs – before being thrown back into the crazy world of the internal thoughts of the performers. The creators, with this piece, fully succeeded in their aims of what they set out to do.
Standout moments come from Kade – played by Andy Davies – for his insane talents at handstand work on his hand balancing canes wowing the audience with one handed handstands, prolonged handstands and any other kind of handstands imaginable! Also, for his multi-piecing showing us he’s a man of many talents impressing the crowd with straps as well. Another stand out moment for me was the duet between Brice and Libby – Kevin McIntosh and Gemma Creasey – on the aerial hoop. The intricacies of the choreography to enable them both to fit on the hoop were simply mesmerising. The passing of weight and fluidity of the movements never resulted in feeling on edge as an audience member.
Reviewed by Thomas Yates