‘How are you going to get down from there?’ asks a small child in the audience of The Hogwallops.
With a playful shrug, a smile in response and a rippling chuckle from the audience, it’s this high-spirited, conversational spontaneity which makes the company of The Hogwallops just so endearing.
Marrying the wonder of a child’s eye with the awe of acrobatics to add those extra ingredients of fun, intrigue and understanding, Lost in Translation Circus pride themselves on creating dramatised work with a fictional function. The result is a colourful concoction of characterful tumbling and a charming, albeit loose, narrative.
Drawing upon a number of literary and artistic influences, such as Roald Dahl’s The Twits and grotesque Italian film Down and Dirty, we are told the story of a hilariously dysfunctional family who find every opportunity to pull pranks on each other. A stolen banana means that the father of the family can’t bake a cake for his birthday and, from this moment, maniacal chaos ensues in every household activity; egg-collecting descends into an impressively complex juggling act, washing lines are used for aerial ropes and cake-baking is a tumbling trifle.
Five motley misfits form our family of all shapes and sizes, fitting together in perfect physical and characterful dynamic. Light is shone equally on individual skills as well as complete, comedic company charisma: a varying feast for the eyes in which no-one feels superfluous.
Whilst the acrobatics are as slick as they come, certain transition phases and dramatically driven moments feel like unnecessary fillers, underscored by a well designed but, at times, inconsistent instrumental. In parts, the loose narrative doesn’t feel knotted, rather frayed within physical sequences with rushed endings. However, a charming smile and a flip or two is enough to solve any hint of concern.
In the visually and conceptually cleanest section, we see a trapeze sequence executed from the father’s Zimmer frame. Filled with warmth and meaning, it would have been interesting to see this subtlety injected into other parts of the performance, tightly interlinking the narrative arc with the acrobatics, as opposed to laying both alongside each other.
But the most important factor: the kids absolutely adore it. A guaranteed good time for all the family, The Hogwallops will stretch your smile, widen your wonder and warm your heart.
The Hogwallops is playing at the Underbelly Topside until August 22. For more information and tickets, see http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/whats-on/the-hogwallops.