Seventy two. That’s the number of times the word ‘no’ features in No Limit, that early 1990s tune from Eurodance maestros 2 Unlimited. And I performed my own somber rendition of the infamous chorus, shaking my head as I left the Roundhouse last week after seeing Loft by the 7 Fingers.
If you have seen De La Guarda’s Fuerzabruta or anything by Cirque Du Soleil then you have already seen the creme de la crme of physical theatre. That the 7 Fingers founders left Cirque to follow their own creative dreams is admirable, but this production represents absolutely no threat to the mothership.
The premise of Loft is seven flat mates going about their cohabitation; clowning around and relieving the tedium by showing off their acrobatics while dressed in white pyjamas. The incongruous video intro by the dour John Snow was priceless and set the bar high but the rest of the evening with its trapeze, diabolo and balancing did not follow suit.
This Montreal based troupe has none of De La Guarda’s edge, energy or frisson, or any of Cirque’s jawdropping skills and paraphernalia, and it is, in parts, stultifying. With no discernable plot the individual set pieces left me cold and just seemed to be scheduled opportunities for each cast member to take a turn under the spotlight rather than as mesmerizing showcases that move the story along.
Lowlights included a cringe worthy trapeze act to Cold Play, and some wince-inducing clowning around that could only amuse the under fives, as well as a lithe beauty performing some bizarre aerial acrobatics with an apple in her mouth, as she writhed between two crimson sheets suspended from the ceiling. If this counts as titillation in Canada no wonder the birthrate is dropping.
Then there was the beat boxer, who just made me curl up on my chair in shame; done well, this kind of aural gymnastics can leaves you gob smacked. (If you want to check some true talent go see the all male and achingly cool Australian acrobats the Tom Tom club, who have unstoppable MCs). Done badly. it’s as if David Brent stepped behind the turntables and I am afraid that this troupe’s DJ Pocket seemed to have come straight from Slough. There was nothing fresh or impressive here and I hurled my head into my hands when they threw a bit of Bohemian Rhapsody into the mix.
Founded in 2002 this company is just too young to be so staid and hackneyed. Evidently there is talent and skill and a love of circus arts present but the show is nothing remarkable, in fact it is a little hammy, and the pantomime-esque, will-he-won’t-he finale was simply enervating.