Under the Dark Moon at Bristol Old Vic
It was with great excitement that I went to watch Under the Dark Moon last night. I’ve enjoyed watching snippets of the Invisible Circus at festivals but never a full production.
The Old Vic has an amazing atmosphere so it can hold a performance such as this in true vintage style. The production was directed by Sarah Fielding and she did an incredible job.
As we all settled into our seats, two of the band came bumbling up onto the stage in comedic fashion and a hush descended. The band began to play and the curtain went up to reveal another (white) curtain back lit and we watched as the characters traversed the stage, hinting at the performance to come. It was very atmospheric and they really built upon the tension. The choice of music throughout was spot on and added to the overall effect.
Doug Francis came onto the stage as ‘Old Victor,’ our story teller, who was perfectly cast, giving a convincingly menacing dark performance throughout. In turn, each character was introduced and their story explained as they danced around the stage. Although the stories were interesting, this part was longer than we were expecting. The climax of this was the circus performances, well worth the wait.
Each character showed high levels of skill and elegance as we were treated to the Trapeze, Counterweighted Slack Rope, Corde Lisse, Chinese Pole, Adagio Banquine, Counterweighted Ariel Silk Loop and Hand Loop. My favourite will always be the Chinese Pole and Justine Squire as Luna defied gravity, showing a strength I never thought possible. Her character was perfectly portrayed and elegantly executed.
Not that any of the performances disappointed. Susie Glatt as Gretchin on the Aerial Silk Loop was elegant and funny and Orio, played by Christopher Bull, showed terrific balance on the Slack Rope. Dela Seward as Sooqui was fabulous on the Trapeze and Abagail Evans as Isadora was enigmatically beautiful, floating into the air on the Ariel Hand Loop.
The comedy of the band was ever present; they were situated on stage throughout and, if my eyes drifted from the main stage, I would see them playing the fool, totally immersed in character throughout. There really was so much to see that I wouldn’t be surprised whether any of the band’s antics went unnoticed. They were funny and added an extra dimension to the performance as a whole – a group of very skilled musicians, they played all sorts of instruments and other items beautifully.
It was a performance I would watch again and that I’m more than happy to reccomend. Please go, you will not be disappointed.
Under the Dark Moon is at Bristol Old Vic until 18th April