As I walked into the foyer of The Civic in Barnsley the atmosphere was explosive; a fanfare of music was enticing me in. As I waded through the crowds of people I saw the Barnsley Town Concert Band, around 25 members being led by Andy Holmes, in full swing; performing Brass covers of well-known chart hits that you couldn't help tapping your feet to. This preshow performance was a great flavor of what was yet to come; they even followed us into the auditorium!
Circa Tsuica is the musical offspring of Cheptel Aleïkoum, the members of the Cheptel (or livestock in English) met over 10 years ago, as they were studying at the Centre National des Arts du Cirque (National Centre for Circus Arts, France). Now, when they're not touring the world, they live together as a community in Saint Agil, a small village in the West of France, where they brought back life and a passion for brass bands. Their name alone is enough to give you an idea of what they're aiming for: "Tsuica" is Romanian for "brandy", like the party spirit that inhabits all of their creations. Fusing amazing skills and live music, they create a playground where humor meets jaw-dropping acrobatic tricks. Opus 7 was definitely bursting with these assets. The piece was presented by Crying Out Load, nurturing extraordinary artists working in visual theatre, on behalf of Circus Evolution, aiming to enable venues to bring more contemporary circus to more people.
Opus 7 was fantastic. It was beautifully composed both musically and theatrically. At only running at an hour, time flew by and I was engrossed into the physical and musical language of the piece. There was very little running narrative as the storytelling was told though the brass music and circus skills, however, the fact there was little spoken word only heightened my enjoyment and did not hinder it in the slightest as audiences were able to add their own narratives.
There were little motifs that were repeated at points throughout the performance, for example, on performer throwing his hat into the air and it landing on his head with 1 attend, then 2, then 3 accompanied by a drum roll, building suspense and a bell on completion which gave audiences hocks to grip onto at points around the physical sketches. There was a mixture of whole ensemble work, such as the cast playing their instruments whilst balancing on a seesaw, and duet work; my favorite of which was 2 performers playing ukuleles whist doing a number of balances and tumbles off one another.
What made the piece so enthralling was the collaboration between the companies physical skill and musical abilities, each of which are extremely impress separately but combined was spectacular. To conclude a local school band Frumptarn Gugggenband played a piece, followed by an entire unit of all three ensembles playing one final piece of music. It was great to see the local community being apart of an internationally Touring company. Well worth and watch.