In a cube of light, Time + Light begins with Jessie Lhôte circling herself in foetal position so fluidly she could be on a rotating platform. As Ayla Graham joins her the piece continues with liquidity. Cube by cube, a road of light appears around the perimeter of the stage which the pair travel accompanied by birdsong. It’s an entrancing beginning. The road vanishes and the movement rises and spreads across the space. Graham performs molten solos as Lhôte plays cat and mouse to try and reach what has become lost to her. The piece is circular and ends with the cubes of light disappearing one by one as Lhôte moves backwards through them. Whilst this was predictable it was still satisfying.
The best thing about Roll up, roll up is the chemistry between the performers. The duo have a cheeky, brotherly rivalry which is infectiously likable. The dynamic between them, combined with the sideways glances Christopher Thomas gives the audience, almost distracts from their marvellous technical skill. The piece builds through hypnotic juggling, rapid breakdancing and daring Cyr wheel feats. Roll up, roll up is a whole lot of fun.
Glorious - Roni is on a completely different wavelength. 'Roni', played by the entire cast, experiences her 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th birthdays in the space of 25 minutes. These occasions are marked by numbered balloons and cakes at various stages of completion. The four years are punctuated by childish whinging, fights with her mother, her first sexual encounter (displayed through close contact floor work under blue lights), and the death of her grandad. The piece ends with a very aesthetically pleasing spreading of flour, which gets stirred up by the performers and catches the light in beautiful clouds. The emotion behind the movement morphs the flour into grandad’s ashes. It is a lot to process but there’s definite potential.
It’s the kind of image that, devoid of context, takes your brain a few moments to compute. Checkered trews pulled taut over the cheeks, it’s an upturned bottom, beaming at you from a tight frame of light. What follows is more arresting still as Jessie Lhôte, pirouetting slowly on one kneecap, palms to the floor, rotates like some luxurious cake on a lazy susan. Jocelyn Todd’s Time + Light, a two-hander that tracks Lhôte and Alya Graham through a series of languid solos and intimate duets, never quite lives up to this opening sequence. What it achieves, by dint of quiet accumulation, is a sense of memory, of time passing, of lives recollected in tranquillity. This is helped by the performers’ rapt focus as they enfold one another in endless smoothly contorted ways. A delicious soundscape of goat bells, crickets and tramping feet evokes Mediterranean heat. A work in progress this may be, but its subtleties are fully formed.
Roll up, roll up, from male duo Simple Cypher, is dynamically at the other end of the scale. For a start, these guys are clearly out to have fun, first with some rounds of juggling - unremarkable but for some nice comic business about who gets to be in the spotlight - then with some idiosyncratic hiphop. But the wow factor comes with the Cyr wheel - a hoop two metres across within whose rim each of them, spreadeagled, tests the physics of the perfect circle, sometimes one-handed. Eat your heart out Cirque du Soleil. This is so much more thrilling up close.
The evening’s closer, Glorious - Roni also contained a breakdance element - or b-boy, to be precise - but it suffered from a surfeit of ideas - text, props, multiple casting and an indecisive narrative. Oh yes, and a walk-on part for a cake. By the end everyone is coated in flour and I had an idea that someone’s grandad may have died but as to why “Roni” was “Glorious” I hadn’t a clue.