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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

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In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Fluffing it: Rouge @Underbellyfest

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It's not enough for a circus act nowadays to offer a series of acrobatic feats. Nowadays, they are pushing all sorts of conventions. There's the all-male, the all-female, the all minimalist. Rouge is the all gender fluid pan-sexual circus for grown-ups who like a bit of everything. But only if that everything includes a little bit of nudity and a bit of mild titillation.  The men wear eyeliner, the pairings are male-female, male-male and female-female.   Strong female types abound throughout. It's a unique concept that's marred by its own timidity. It's currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank . The performers are interesting enough. There's the aerial trapeze, the ring, and the strap. All are deftly executed. There's a terrific flame swallowing routine which seems all the more intense in the confines of the Spiegeltent. An inventive sequence happens where the performer is wearing a lampshade and combines hula hoops with

Flying and flexing: A Simple Space @UnderbellyFest

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Gravity and Other Myths return to the Underbelly Festival on the South Bank with their thrilling minimalist and physical show, A Simple Space. The piece strips back the art of circus performance until it’s just skin and muscle. Leaving you amazed by the feats of endurance, strength and precision. It’s been four years since Gravity and Other Myths had this show on the South Bank. And while the performers have changed, the sense of playful wonder remains. And it’s still exciting seeing performers skip rope, handstand and backflip to the point of exhaustion. This is not a show that makes circus art look easy. The show progresses through various feats of endurance including throwing, catching and falling. The opening scene features each performer shouting out they’re falling and wait for another performer to catch them. It’s an evocative opener and sets the tone for various set pieces that play on the theme of gravity-defying circus acts. Audience participation includes an en

Starmen: Briefs Close Encounters @LeicesterSqXmas

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Circus performers often seem out of this world. This Christmas The Briefs Factory , lands at the Leicester Square Spiegeltent. Briefs Factor is an all-male burlesque (or as they call it boylesque) group who use circus, drag and dance to show us a good time. The premise is they’re time-travelling aliens offering a message a hope and cheap thrills. And they don’t disappoint for a moment. With a pulsating soundtrack from music director Busty Beatz mixing disco, electronic and dance, this show never lets up. And when the entire cast come together this show is both breathtaking and breathless with it’s audacious spectacle and energy. It’s like watching a Vegas show up close. Holding the show together is host, emcee and artistic Fez Fa’anana. Even setting the ground rules for the night (no phones, no bad manners, no dramaturg) he’s hilarious. Then there are the performers. Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill delivers both a beautiful aerial display and a slightly disturbing bearded lady drag act. T

Bend and snap: Circa’s Peep Show @UnderbellyFest #CircaPeepshow

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Watching from the sidelines of Cira’s Peep Show feels a little dangerous at times. Other acts might splash you or have their props fly in your face. But this act feels at times like the acrobats will land in your lap. Bodies assemble. Muscles tense. Veins start to throb. Then they fall, the bounce, they appear from out of the shadows. It’s fascinating and a little bit unnerving. Particularly if you’re sitting up close to the action as a body falls toward you. Although when they do they break into a roll. It’s currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on the South Bank. In a physical and breathtaking 70 minutes bodies are thrown about, bounce off each other and contort into positions that you don’t think could be possible. Or at least without hearing something go pop or snap.   Keeping in theme with Circa’s other minimalistic productions, here the focus is on the body as a performance machine with few props. The premise behind the show is less on sexual gratification and more on the

More towels please: Soap @UnderbellyFest

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Circus acts as part of the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank are always a highlight of the programme. Adding bathtubs, water and a hint of nudity is definitely a winning formula. And it makes for good clean fun (this show is aimed at all ages). Soap which originated in Germany has been touring around the world. But for the first time it’s in the round in the Spiegeltent. The effect pushes you right up close to the action. So close that you can see the muscles tense and flex on the performers. The cast run through a variety of bath-time themed circus feats. There’s Vanessa Alvarez as a foot juggler of bath towels and guitars. Anton Belyakov thrills with handstand on what appears to be a very slippery Villeroy and Boch bathtub. Lena Ries contorts within one. Adem Endris juggles on top of one. Daniel Stern rises above one on straps. And Moritz Haase wows with a thrilling Trapeze finale as water rains down from above. Marie-Andrée Lemaire is on hand for comic relief. And Jennifer Linds

Flipping memories: Catch Me @FlipFabriQue @UnderbellyFest

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It's the start of summer. The weather's hot and the Underbelly Festival at the South Bank Centre is opening with its usual eclectic mix of circus acts, comedy and cabaret. And Flip FabriQue's Catch Me fits this bill well. There is beauty and fluidity in the performances. The premise is that ten years later a bunch of friends reunite for another weekend at a cottage together. They play. They have fun. And they do strange and unusual things with straps, trampolines and diablos.