Casus present Knee Deep

The Black-E, Liverpool
7th November 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Moving Spectacle

As you head out of town towards the biggest Chinese arch in Europe you can not fail to see a fine stone building on the right, next door to it. This is the Black-E. Its entrance hall supports a large stain-glassed dome and the huge impressive performance space is slightly reminiscent of the old Liverpool Stadium. It was here that four strong CASUS turned up to put on a dazzling show of physical theatre and circus skill dexterity that thrilled the large mixed age audience.

As part of their two week stay in the City the troupe have been doing some community outreach work, which included some tips for The Black-E Youth Circus Programme. It was these young kids, on the very cusp of a life of derring-do, that provided a short piece, applauded by not only the mums and dads in the audience.

There was indeed a very respectable turnout, and a sense of anticipation grew as the small square mat at the centre of the room received some final adjustments, as a smoke machine in the balcony belched an opaque cloud over the excited chatter.

Into the arena then came the stars themselves: Emma Sergeant, Jesse Scott, Lachlan McAulay and Natano Fa'anana. The members of this Australian quartet have a long history of appearing not only in their homeland base, (Fa'anana is originally from Samoa), but all over the world. Knee Deep is the collaboration that wowed the Edinburgh Fringe recently and it did not disappoint tonight.

The only glitch in an hour's worth of non-stop action came at the start, when the unlucky female, whilst walking on full egg boxes on a gymnastics beam, cracked a couple of them but to no major detriment. (A later routine involving four wine bottles on which balanced a table, two egg boxes and three people, came off splendidly.)

The troupe went into a series of tumbling, balancing, throwing, lifting or strength routines that showed not only the manual dexterity and trust that they had in each other as a team, but also their individual capabilities.

Then out of the smoke dropped in succession, a series of trapeze, aerial silk, or rope apparatus on which the same things were done in the air, to the 'oohs and aahs' of the younger members of the audience.

Clark Corby, as technical director, was responsible for all this in-air activity, which was accompanied by synchronised music blasting from the huge loudspeakers.

It was serious, focused and unpretentious stuff, where one slipped grip or pulled muscle could have proved disastrous, but all went well and they properly received a standing ovation at the end.

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