There was no obvious fanfare at the first public performance in Southville’s newest theatre. Housed on the same floor as the Factory Theatre, the Spielman is a swankier version of what went before it at The Brewery Theatre. This is pleasing to me as, though TFT have made a fine and inclusive job of outsourcing shows to an impressive number of local venues over the past couple of years, I missed the Brewery and would probably count it as my favourite theatre, the place that I’ve seen performances that made me think and that stayed with me. So, a big warm welcome to you Spielman and here’s to many good evenings ahead!
The new auditorium is full for No Show, an all-female contemporary circus show, devised and directed by Ellie Dubois. Mark’s groan was sizeable when he read the low down on this show but it’s fair to say that the blurb on TFT’s website might not accurately describe what we are about to see, which is, in fact, a performance by five remarkably athletic women that highlights the ordinariness of them while displaying their physical talents and one that won him over quickly.
Fran, Alice, Camille, Kate and Michelle share with us some of their understandable gripes. They are asked to keep smiling, a request that is so oft repeated that they constantly remind each other to do this throughout the show. You are women, so no sweating please! It’s a performers’ take on that ‘Come on girls – chin up, tits out, stomach in’ stance that women obey when having their photograph taken. Kate tells us that, a person with a degree in Circus Skills (or similar), she is often asked to do pretty, demure things (with that smile, of course) that involve twirls and aerial turns instead of all those power tumbles that she is so good but that are the domain of the masculine. There’s plenty for feminists to get their teeth into here.
The sound of ‘Ooh, ah and ouch’ oscillated around the auditorium as Fran performed her hair hang and Camille got the love and admiration for her powerful spins in the very heavy, potentially terrible injury giving steel Cyr wheel. As for Michelle, she really can hold that leg up (wow!). Good, if too frequently repeated, banter accompanied muscular Alice’s handstands and the rapport between all five women is solid, as they show their commonalities, competitiveness and friendship, all of this with a somewhat dark edge.
Most women, in particularly, will enjoy seeing the variety of body shapes among these beer-drinking (they tell us) women who eat doughnuts in front of us. It’s good to know that even such physically strong females have bits that wobble.
No show offers an hour of fun and plain speaking and all the fanfare that the opening night of TFT’s Spielman Theatre needed.
No Show plays at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 27th October
- Image by Chris Reynolds, with thanks