Sadler’s Wells Theatre

1 February 2019

Maggie Foyer

The London International Mime Festival offers a platform to a range of physical theatre that might otherwise struggle to find a home. This is not because the shows are not worthy of a good home, but they simply don’t confirm: they are unique, odd, different and so often deliver a very special theatre experience.

Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley's Spring Photo: Simon Carter

Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley’s Spring
Photo: Simon Carter

Viewing Gandini and Alexander Whitley‘s mix of juggling and contemporary dance was a gentle, persuasive experience, as the highly skilled performers caught and held the attention. There was little of the razzmatazz one comes to expect of circus performance although the breath taking timing and co-ordination we associate with circus skills was there in spades. All the while, Whitley’s dancers cleverly insinuated the dance and choreography within and around the hoops, balls and batons that constantly fly through the air.

There were infinite variations on a theme as colours changed with a quick flip and like magic, pattern appeared in perfect sequence. In the monochrome of the simple practice style costumes and minimal set, the colours made an effective contrast while the lighting by Guy Hoare structured the space and instigated emotional shifts in light and colour.

The musicians playing behind a gauze were only highlighted occasionally but Gabriel Prokofiev’s score of often gritty sounds were grist to the mill, contrasting and supporting the constant flow of movement.

Gandini Juggling & Alexander Whitley - SPRING Photo: Simon Carter

Gandini Juggling & Alexander Whitley’s Spring
Photo: Simon Carter

In a show that demanded split-second precision the cast of 12 looked incredibly laid back and relaxed as dozens of hoops flipped through the air to arrive in the right hands at the right moment. The dance, at times, seemed to take the back seat but Whitley had choreographed plenty of interesting material notable in creative floor work. At around one hour, the team timed it just right for a quality evening of unusual and intriguing performing art.