Bianco, NoFitState, Cardiff

June 18, 2015 by

NoFitState seem to be bigger than ever with more performers, greater confidence, and buckets full of personality melded with artistry and skills that, more often than not, lock your attention.

The company is based in Cardiff but is a globe-trotter and this revival will also be hitting the road on a European tour. The big op is currently outside the old WNO building in John Street, Cardiff (will the money for land be going to WMC where it belongs now the opera company is housed there?)  and the run down feel of the area adds to the quasi French avant-garde feel of the show. Most of the indecipherable ramblings of performers are in French as well – I assume that is what they are speaking.

I cannot claim to be a great fan of jugglers so the odd section left me cold and I am not sure how many of the mistakes in performances were intentional. This also applies to the otherwise wonderful tight rope walking section which I adored and actually seemed more accomplished when you could see there was difficulty in getting it right.

Generally, the wow factor comes from the rope work and the trapeze escapades and these were breathtaking.  Stripped down to the essential virtuosity of the performer or performers in duets and this was a glorious show. All the enforced jollity, the jigging around and gesturing and shouting all sorts of somethings to the audience didn’t really add anything.

I would have changed the lighting at times and also it seemed pointless having performers wearing black and then becoming almost invisible in the darkness.

The show ranges from slapstick when the second half opens with a trampoline beach scene and the characters cavort around but I am not sure whether I do enforced zaniness on this scale. This did smack too much of the dreaded traditional circus. Some of the movement was clever and skilful but the frollicking humour was too dragged out.

Quite white the show is called Bianco is beyond me apart from a section where one of the women has a very long frock that hangs from her when she is lifted into the air and then drops to concentrate on her aerial dance.

However, after being moved around the interior of the tent to enable props and towers to be moved around I got a bit bored of herding and my attention did wander off and I found myself watching the chaps operating the ropes, the weights and balances for the performers, more than the intended object of my awe. Similarly, I decided to watch the band, which was terrific, rather than work out where to go next as I found my view of anything happening on terra firma blocked.

Of course, there has to be some movement of towers and props but I would keep it to a minimum and there was one section where it took an age to assemble some sort of white climbing frame only for several minutes of what seemed random leaping and hanging about – and then another age in taking it apart. Other capers felt like padding but I am sure they also displayed remarkable skill but I would have kept to the big hitters.

The scenes that were most effective were when the company either stuck to showing remarkable skill and/or combined that with aerial work that enabled costume to strands to swirl around creating prettiness as well as physical dexterity.

I have never quite understood any of the Company’s themed shows and this is no different. I suppose to call it art they feel the need to give it a name and an intellectual conceit.  I wouldn’t bother as the audience loves the skills and artistry for what it is, rather than a meaningful something or other.

Did I mention there was a lot of a clothes being discarding? I am sure it was all part of the theme as directed by Firenza Guidi but, hey, who cared. Nice to look at. Shallow, I know, but that also adds to the enjoyment.

Until June 27

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