News > Spoleto 2015 Review: Knee Deep

Art Mag’s Exclusive Spoleto Festival Coverage

photo by SYC Studios - Sean Young

photo by SYC Studios – Sean Young

Don’t crack.

Several cartons of eggs line the floor of the dark empty stage, as the performance begins with cast member Kali Retallack taking delicate steps on top of the eggs as if walking on a fragile balance beam. Not a single egg is broken. Eggs are a reoccurring theme in this hour-long performance, telling the story of strength and delicacy by the four-member cast of Casus Circus in their show Knee Deep. The show is a play on perception; what we view as fragile can be strong – often at the expense of making the audience feel equally at awe as they feel uncomfortable.

photo by SYC Studios - Sean Young

photo by SYC Studios – Sean Young

Stadium seating surrounds all four sides of the intimate square stage at Memminger Auditorium, this theatre-in-the-round ensuring a clear view from every seat in the house. The set is very minimal, with none of the fanfare you think of when you hear ‘circus.’ Only a few props are used here and there, with the main emphasis and attention being on the performers themselves.

The show is divided into different acts that seamlessly transition into the next. Some of the acts have a narrative quality, which incorporate humor and a little goofiness into the show. Other acts focus simply on the incredible talent of the performers. One act uses a trapeze bar and another uses ropes, but performer Natano Fa’anna really impresses when he hoists himself into the air and then plummets on silk bands that are suspended from the ceiling.

Many of the acts do not use equipment, as the performers climb one another to stand on shoulders, cantilevering on one anothers body weight, and even linking arms to form a human tightrope. The strength and balance it takes to perform these tricks is impressive, but at times also uncomfortable. Retallack, the only woman, performs the same as her male counterparts and at one-point serves as the base of a human tower. Yes, the same performer who opens the show being fragile enough to walk on eggs is the base of a human tower. This imagery and juxtaposition challenge the audience, causing bodies to tense up as if they are experiencing the challenge and physical discomfort of the performers.

photo by SYC Studios - Sean Young

photo by SYC Studios – Sean Young

With so many incredible moments in this show of impressive feats, you will leave the performance in awe, and with a new appreciation for just how strong the delicate things in life can be.

words: Matt Mill
images: SYC Studios – Sean Young, courtesy Spoleto Festival USA

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Posted on June 9, 2015 by Matt Mill.

Categories: Performing Arts, Review

Tags: Casus Circus, Casus Circus Knee Deep, Kali Retallack, Knee Deep, Natano Fa’anna, SFUSA2015, Spoleto, Spoleto Festival Usa

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