NICA’s circus from the mean streets

In any given week, this town has a thousand stories. Amongst the dames and dopes, one night you sip from a coupe de champagne, another you take a knuckleduster to the kidney. On the promise of action and some yuks, I trudged to a back alley in Windsor to see the National Institute of Circus Arts new show, One False Move. At times the tale strained like an aging streetwalker with a pill problem, but I’ve got a good feeling about these young performers.

NICA, One False Move. Pic by D Wyatt
NICA, One False Move. Image by David Wyatt

Featuring a diverse range of acts from NICA’s second year students, One False Move lured me into its clutches with a promise of a film-noir inspired evening. In some cases the noir worked well, like the silhouettes and film dialogue snippets, but at others, like when jazz music switched to some kinda teutonic trip hop, the theme was stretched thinner than your sweetheart’s silk stockings.

I’ve been on the streets a long time, and there are certain things that ruffle my feathers. Some scenes petered out like a damp squib rather than finishing with a bang. Also, some of the novelty of scene changes revealed by moving nondescript grey boxes was lost through its overuse, and couldn’t the boxes have looked like something of the era, like an Oldsmobile? My biggest beef was with some ensemble scenes where I had my attention split in so many directions that I didn’t manage to take in much of anything. It felt like watching a setup of a whole lot of dominos and then seeing them knocked down just a few at a time, here and there, giving pockets of some interest, rather than an impressive sequence. Some more thoughtful lighting might have better guided my eye to the action.

Even for a hard-boiled type like me, there’s a lot to like about the show. Costumes were eye-catching, especially for the femme fatales, and helped to distinguish performers. Certain performers excelled in enhancing their character, and for excitement we had an ensemble scene across a table where performers zipped across the stage like slugs from a tommy gun. Although I’ve seen quite a bit of circus, I was pleased to see the odd twist of something I hadn’t seen before.

Sometimes I carry regrets like a goon does his switchblade, but not this time. Next time NICA’s running a circus racket, I’ll be keen to keep a beady eye on them to check out their angle.

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