Underbelly Circus Hub, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 12th August 2015
The Hogwallops is the first touring production from Jackson’s Lane, presented by Lost In Translation Circus, a company that emerged from the then Circus Space in 2008 and is now run by Massimiliano Rossetti and Annabel Carberry. The show is a broad character study of a rambunctious Italian family, with some neat circus technique, and absurdist comedy.
There is a birthday. There is an ongoing squabble over bananas. A cake is baked, and a radio plays.
Another victim of the Circus Hub’s ill-preparedness, the show I see today is effectively a live dress rehearsal, and the company have an excellent energy to their performance. The noticeably monochrome lighting states may be a work-in-progress. The scale of performance, with its loud repetitive vocal ejaculations and stock characterisation, seems more appropriate at this stage to a street environment, although the regularly raised fourth wall plays against this.
I’m impressed by the performance of live music from Moira Morrison on accordion, clarinet, vocals and live looping (additional composition by Peter Swaffer-Reynolds), although she’s easy to miss amid the chaotic onstage shenanigans.
A scattered set, with stylised shabbiness, provides a generic household messiness, and the Korean cradle upstage creates an anticipation of how and when it will be used. There is also a cloudswing pinned ready as a washing line, that Carberry as the family mum will later unpeg and perform on at a nerve-tinglingly close proximity to the other cast members laid on the kitchen table directly underneath.
Carberry also provides an exciting aerial act on a suspended zimmerframe, whose lack of symmetry and oddly placed gravitational centre make for an unruly sense of orientation on this interesting piece of kit. The moment also offers a welcome change in mood and tone.
Roisin Morris and Rossetti perform some tight high-flying hand-to-hand, and also come together on the Korean cradle in a solid act of a type not often seen in the UK.
Thibaut Lezervant is amusing in a promising clowning sequence that follows a radio announcer’s tips on ‘meeting the woman of your dreams’, and his ball juggling between hands and feet includes a smart contingency for incorporating drops.
The familial roles of the cast are confusing, and The Hogwallops relies on a surrealist interpretation of the context in which they present their tricks. Stylistically, it reminds me of Happy Families, but with a far looser narrative.
Circus technique is strong, but the theatrical direction from Chris Dingli leaves something to be desired.