Barely Methodical Troupe returns to the Roundhouse with their brand new show Kin. Barely Methodical Troupe broke their way onto the circus circuit back in 2014 with their first show, Bromance. They won the Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Award for Circus at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and subsequently toured the world. Now they’re back and keen to break away from being known as the Bromance company, so they’ve come back with more company members, bigger tricks and a Cyr wheel.
The show is set in the round and starts with the five male performers dressed in tracksuits with different numbers on them. They are pushing one another to the ground. They stop as soon as the apparent leader (Nikki Rummer) enters. There are shudders of awkward laughter from the audience as the performers all stare at one another reshuffling. Kin continues in this fashion: the performers sequentially perform for the leader, awkwardly pause and repeat. They later dance with (and get attacked by) her one by one to Shangri Las past, present and future.
The lacklustre rhythm of the piece allows it to become predictable, and even dull. It is reminiscent of Waiting for Godot without the punch, and it soon descends into a bland X Factor-type format. The performers are without character and are waiting for the audience to laugh. After a few attempts, the awkward humour becomes monotonous. Kin displays incredible physicality, however it lacks a certain oomph that a strong plot or dramaturgical support could offer.
There are a few moments of brilliance. One of the outstanding images was the strong Rummer on the top of the shoulders of two performers. She towers over 18 feet in the air and wears a black cloak, making her a monolithic dementor. The dance battle for a banana is very amusing, but it ends too quickly. The company’s demand of the Cyr wheel and the see-saw at the finale of the show provides for highly entertaining circus and jaw-dropping physicality.
The company define Kin as “a group with its own arbitrary rules, its own leaders and followers and a constantly shifting dynamic between those who take and those who give up control”. There are only momentary shifts when the leader seems to lose her control. It would have been more interesting to see alternative power dynamics, or perhaps a complete reversal. The company cites their influences as Lord of the Flies. Unfortunately, the piece does not quite capture the raw energy of this society; however, it is clear that the performers have the capacity to create this. Perhaps through further performances and re-structuring, Kin can deliver the punch it has been holding back.
Barely Methodical Troupe: Kin is playing at the Roundhouse until 24 April. For more information and tickets, see the Roundhouse website. Photo: Hugo Glendinning