Review: Limbo, London Wonderground South Bank ✭✭✭✭

Sitting down in a big top on London’s Southbank you automatically begin to expect jugglers, magicians, fire breathers and the obligatory human pyramid but with Limbo you get so much more than you bargained for. Fresh from the Adelaide Fringe Festival (where it picked up the much coveted BankSA Pick of the Fringe award) Limbo is an unexpectedly devilish delight – a circus set in purgatory. The spectator becomes the redeemer as we are introduced to this circus-cum-cabaret’s cast of sinners: the incarcerated gymnast, the possessed contortionist, and the death defying fire breathing girl amongst others. Every creature is dark and sultry; and each performer relishes their moment to shine. In fact, the vast array of strength and skill on display here shines so much it’s blinding.

Limbo is mesmerising on the skill of the performers alone, the added narrative makes it diabolically playful

Scott Maidment’s direction is clear in its vision and from start to finish not a word is said, instead allowing the talent and dexterity of his cast to take centre stage. Mikael Bres charms and enchants with his lithe work on the Chinese Pole. Jonathan Nosan’s contortionism is nauseatingly incredible. And Heather Holliday’s dark tattooed arm coyly twirls her hair, before she practically ingests two swords in a display that amazes the audience, but rouses the men in particular. However Limbo wouldn’t be half the spectacle it is without the musical direction of Sxip Shirey, whose score conjures images of Mardi Gras and unifies the athleticism, whimsy and oozing sexiness into a wicked pageant. In fact Shirey is a curiosity all of his own, dressed in white, with feathers falling from his pockets, his wild hair and exuberant personality are beguiling.

This circus does suffer from a few unwelcome gremlins however. The magic tricks lack the same originality and wonder on display. One or two of the acts underwhelms when it’s sandwiched between others that astound and impress, such is the nature of the cabaret fiend. However when this vibrant troupe of performers knock you dead at every turn, you feel compelled to offer absolution for such minor sins.

It’s impossible not to have fun. Limbo is mesmerising on the skill of the performers alone, the added narrative makes it diabolically playful. It is a pandemonium where all the little devils have come out to entertain you. If this is how much fun it is to be damned for all time, sign me up!

**** (4stars)
Runs until 29th September
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