Review Becoming Shades, Chivaree Circus, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
In the deep dark underground of The Vaults in London, Vault Festival obtains every corner. Lightened by UV and Neon, packed full of people, in rooms that seemingly appear from nowhere – what  a perfect place to stage an apocalyptic underworld full of circus extraordinaire.
Becoming Shades is mostly entirely run by women – but these women are fierce. They occupy this expanse of an Underworld, making us stare and gasp in awe at their circus techniques – but not all is what it seems. This is dark, real dark – a feeling of two acrobatics with a grudge; a girl pulled into the chaos and forced to perform; three henchmen and their comical relationships; all run by our ‘ring leader’ – a gas masked mystery, moving almost like an old person but still curious and inhuman-like.
This promenade performance moves the audiences across the space – our henchmen guiding us with mime and fear – we’re never sure if they will hurt us or play with us. They move us with such ease – the lighting changing and acting as a beacon for where we must go.

The costumes and set are exactly what you would expect – reused material yet with a finesse of circus tradition; everything encompasses this watery, dark underground world.

There’s no ‘tud dah’ moments; no smiles; we know we cannot be hurt and we will leave eventually but there’s the 1% that makes you think you’ll be with this group of mischiefs forever.
The stunts are undeniably creative, surprising and inspiring; seeing each muscle in the performer’s bodies move in the light as their sheer strength and flexibility turns around a rope; silks; flaming hoops and so on. And then there are fire breathing, juggling, all to grab your attention and keep you guessing.

The cast themselves did a great job of constant character; the interval let us stay in the area and they loitered; looking sad and bewildered; listening to the live music which was very necessarily dark, indie and mood enhancing. Or they decided to play with us, invite us to be entertained instead of checking Twitter.
Beyond Shades evokes a little reminder of No Fit State Circus ; energetic, unusual but still with their own take and own identity. Just as No Fit, they are incredible and nothing short of sheer perfection, something like you have never seen before.

Hannah Goslin

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