Review: By A Thread at Gasworks

4 years ago
Aidan Johnson

By A Thread is the sort of show that will attract fans of both the circus and of dance shows, due to the excellent variety of skills displayed, as well as the fun and engaging nature of the show.

Considering that only the seven performers and one long piece of rope were used, the dynamic range of acts in the performance was breathtaking. There were serious and romantic acts, performances that were acts that showcased the acrobatic abilities of the performers (there were moments when the audience sat on the edge of their seat, anxious to see if the acrobats could achieve the daring feats, and how it would all work out), and even clown acts to lighten the mood. The show was well-paced, with slower and serious elements broken up by the more upbeat moments.

Photo credit: Aaron Walker

In addition, there was something very impressive about watching a clown act that also showed superhuman skills – not something you see every day. The soundtrack drives the show forward, with the music repetitive enough to allow the performers to take their time when necessary, yet also dynamic and interesting enough to ensure that it wasn’t monotonous. The music, aside from setting the pace, also set the tone for each segment of the show, and took the audience on an emotional journey through the performance. It was also varied – ranging from Enya through to dance tunes, and everything in between, which ensured that each segment was unique.

As with all live performances, there were mistakes made, and, considering that acrobatics is fiendishly difficult, it was surprising more mistakes weren’t made. Fortunately for the show, the obvious mistakes were also made during the “clowning” segments, where accuracy is often not as important as style and showmanship. The mistakes that were made however actually added to the show, highlighting just how hard the acrobatics and performances actually were, something which is often misunderstood from an audience’s perspective who on occasion expect seamless performances.

It also helped that after a particularly gruelling series of acts, the final performer was able to pull off the particular trick, which made the audience go wild.

The show was also interesting silent in regards to the performers themselves. Although there were a few acts where they were shouting directions at each other, for the most part they were very quiet. This highlighted two things: firstly, that they had rehearsed enough to have a nearly seamless show; and secondly that words are not necessary to convey messages across. Sound and physicality were driving factors in the show, and yet small stories were easily there to be seen by the audience – the envious competing acrobats, or the romance between two characters on the ropes as examples. It goes to show that you don’t need dialogue to have a great show.

Overall, By A Thread was a fantastic show and display of human physical potential. If you like dance, acrobatics, or just think ropes are cool, this show is definitely for you.

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