REVIEW: CLOSER (Udderbelly Festival)


Spring time in London sees the return of the upside down purple cow on Londons Southbank.

The latest acrobatic ensemble out of Australia is CLOSER by Circa. Circa picks up some of the most talented circus performers and encourages them to tumble, twist, pivot, pull and ultimately, entertain. And entertain they do.

Here, the usual circus elements are present. A trapeze, rope and stackable chairs all in the name of entertainment. A team of five take to the stage, each with their own unique strengths and opportunity to showcase them through a solo act. However combined, they form a troupe of entertainers that keep the audience guessing from oos and ahhs to gasps as it’s thought one will very quickly face plant into the floor.

There’s an obvious connection through the troupe. Each placing an immense amount of trust and faith in their compatriots. To either, hold them, or catch them if/when they fall. That’s where the title kicks in, Closer. The show depends on the physical connection between performers. A hug, a grip and catch, they all involve close-proximity touching for an up close and personal encounter.

Lisa Goldsworthy in particular is a standout. She displays an unexpected strength. She’s not obviously muscley so to watch as she catches and tosses her teamamte about the stage as if just a bag of 5kg potatoes, is jaw dropping. But it’s her hula hooping that truly caught my eye. An act where so many hoops were tossed around I lost count, and she made it look so easy. I left feeling slightly in awe and partly inadequate for my own school-girl style hoola hooping prowess.

Like most things there’s a downside. This year, the venue itself feels different. The Udderbelly feels smaller, tighter than in previous years. As I literally squeeze into my seat I’m wondering if I’m on a two hour Ryanair flight to Madrid with the limited legroom and shoulder to shoulder with my neighbours. The premium seats allocated to us for the evening didn’t seem to premium as my knees jutted into the back of the gent infront. I apologise profusely but we both sigh and resign to the fact thats our fate for the next two hours. It does make for an uncomfortable show when your legs go numb. With nowhere to go, shuffling in your seat is futile and irritating for those in your adjacency. As the show draws to a close, I clap enthusiastically as the crowd around me stands. It’s a standing ovation from 80% of the crowd, perhaps that 20% of us can’t find our legs to stand even if we wanted to. I figure next time I’ll grab a seat in the front row, one benefit to unallocated seating I suppose.

Overall, with tickets from just 21 pounds it’s a cheap date night or evening activity. Save yourself a fiver and pass on the premium Sirloin seats, with majority of the show being conducted in the air, you certainly won’t be gaining any extra legroom for the price.

Reviewed by Roma Small
Photo: Luke MacGregor

Closer is playing at the Udderbelly Festival on London’s Southbank until 12 June 2016


Take a look at my video with the cast of CLOSER where they teach me how to hula hoop!