Friday 19 October 2018

Feed The Horse - Circus Review

What: Feed The Horse
When: 18 - 21 October, 2018
Where: Melba Spiegeltent
Created and performed by: Radish By Night
Radish By Night
Feed The Horse is one of the three experimental circus shows which opened for the second week of the Sidesault festival at Melba Spiegeltent last night. I haven't been able to find out details of the cast members but they all worked as a very tight ensemble.

Feed The Horse is billed as being a Dadaist/Surreal/Butoh performance. It is supposed to be immersive and shock the senses. I am not convinced it lives up to the marketing but what I will say is Radish By Night have an incredibly strong visual aesthetic and some great circus skills.

Dadaism and Butoh were essentially created out the the same impetus although in different parts of the world at different times. Both movements were about breaking down the traditional ideas of what art (or dance in the case of Butoh) is/was. They are both a form of 'anti-art' movement. They are both about breaking taboos and revealing the ugly, the real, the visceral. Surrealism was born out of Dadaism and reached deep into the subconscious to make unexpected and absurd connections and bring them into the conscious world.

Radish By Night have certainly captured the look of Butoh, and the sequences around and beyond the hand balancing routine capture the look and feel of traditional Butoh - although I suspect more as an aesthetic than a movement. I was  impressed with the hand balancing routine although I think there were some problems with the stability of the apparatus. Having said that, the acrobat who performed it was extremely skilled and created the most amazing nightmare shapes.

 I am not convinced they touch on Dadaism at all as they stay well within modern post-dramatic performance forms (it is hard to be Dadaist in a post-dramatic age). The one exception may be the final sequence where the audience are made to stand in the middle of the room for apparently no purpose at all. I also think that is the closest element of immersion as well. I don't define running around the audience in a big top tent as immersion...

The great strength of the show lies in it's surreal vision. For those who don't know, the term "feed the horse" refers to stimulating and/or fingering a female for pleasure. The show begins with the most incredible visual sequence which links the idea of the womb, to the vagina, to the mane of the horse using the stunning natural locks of one of the male performers.  As I said earlier, the visuals in this show are phenomenal and Feed The Horse is worth seeing just for this aspect alone. I also suspect the performers have done some work with Viewpoints looking at how they use and balance the space and each other so endureingly.

The ideas and images are strong in Feed The Horse, and the circus elements are great too. This is the only show in the Sidesault series to use the tight rope and there is a simple, yet stunning aerial trapeze act. The simplicity in itself a Dadaist rebellion in a way. The manic skipping clown was fun too. The sound track to Feed The Horse was wonderfully otherwordly and helped create the idea of dreams and nightmares.

The show is short - only around 40 minutes which is great because as the last of the three on offer, it means if you see the whole set it is still not an overwhelmingly late night. It will however leave you with amazing visions to inspire your own dreamscape as you sleep.

3 Stars

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