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TIPPING POINT – Platform Theatre, London.

unnamedTipping Point is a show by Ockham’s Razor. If you know the company, then you may have an inkling of what to expect, even without the knowledge that this is the opening show in the London International Mime Festival. In fact, there’s a lot more to the festival than just mime; it covers circus arts and physical Theatre too, and all to a very high standard, judging by the odd things I’ve seen in the past.

Unusual is a key quality of the brand, and this is no exception, a show which centres around five performers (three male, two female) and a number of long, white poles. The poles are long (about 16 feet perhaps?) and the performers (in vests and knee breeches) have a certain muscular development, which is certainly a pointer to what is to come.

What you don’t perhaps expect from such a bald description is the presence, commitment and intent of all concerned, characteristics which really do mark this production out as something special. Of course, it helps that the performers have a lot of friends in the (full) house. They certainly made a lot more friends as the show progressed, and a good number were on their feet applauding as the performance drew to a close.

So what happens?

Well, at the outset, the cast use one of the poles to draw a circle of sand on the performance space. The pole becomes a very large paintbrush, describing a limit to the performance area. Even this has a kind of solemnity about it. The process looks as though it could have come from a ritual of some kind.

Thereafter, those poles are balanced on fingertips, swayed away from, dived under, hung from the scaffolding that arches above, climbed upon, walked along while in movement, swung from with a semi-balletic poise. At every turn, one performer relies on one or other of the rest to be precise, accurate and strong. This inter-reliance continually underlines the interdependence of one upon another, on the stage as in life, to the point where the performance becomes massively touching – moving even.

This is a serious show but one with huge optimism and lightness. Tipping Point is seriously produced, with its own soundscapes (by turns haunting, magical, rhythmic) composed to meet the specific needs of the production.

Circus skills are here in abundance, but this is more than a circus show. It is about ideas as much as qualities like strength, or balance, and has a quite unique presence, something you feel pleased to have been part of, albeit as a passive observer.

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Reviewed 11/01/2016

By Michael Spring

11th – 23rd January 2016
Platform Theatre, London, N1C 4AA.

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