Tonight was supposed to be the grand reopening of Jacksons Lane – a converted church that’s home to circus in north London – after a £4.5m refurbishment. But the building work isn’t finished, so instead of entering through a smart new foyer we queue at an ad-hoc side door, which seems in keeping with the venue’s friendly, unflashy community vibe.
The same vibe comes from the company, Lost in Translation, which has been chosen to get the show back on the road after 18 months’ Covid closure. The interactions between the 10-strong troupe are warm, friendly and sometimes silly as they shine torches on the performers (in lieu of a fancy light show) and find novel ways to reset and rig the stage between their various acts, which are glued together by Peter Reynolds’ live music, conjuring up a cabaret feel in the corner of the stage.
The intimacy of the venue means you can see the intricacies of limbs twisting and knotting themselves around an aerial hoop, silk or trapeze. The company is strong on aerial skills: Holly Downey rises high above the stage, hands in straps, to do some joyous somersaulting with buoyant rhythm; she balances in box splits, tension perfectly calibrated, then drops dramatically to hang by an ankle.
The show is billed as “circus cabaret for the 21st century” and Zaki Musa’s flying pole (a vertical pole suspended from the ceiling), in which he strips to a sequinned thong for an elegant pole dance, PVC platform heels squeaking against the metal, seems to fit that bill.
Elsewhere, a comical couple of hand-to-hand acrobats execute some very advanced trust exercises; Tasha Rushbrooke combines the ball skills of a rhythmic gymnast with headrush-inducing handstands, showing supreme control and absolute symmetry; and foot juggler Val Jauregui demonstrates brain-jangling hand-eye-foot coordination as balls fly through her upside down legs. Massimiliano Rossetti and partner Roisin Morris do a rare Russian cradle act: Rossetti, strapped to a scaffold, grasps Morris by the ankles or wrists while she effortlessly swings and somersaults through his legs.
Refurb or not, it’s a merry reopening. These impressive artists pull off fresh-feeling acts with a light touch.