Controlled Falling Project, Udderbelly's Pasture, Edinburgh

Alice Jones
Wednesday 26 August 2009 12:13

Circus has come a long way since the days of sawdust and spandex. You don’t even need a big top anymore. Controlled Falling Project takes place inside the belly of an upside down purple cow, the three acrobats performing their extraordinary feats within thrilling touching distance - so close you can hear their breathing and count the beads of sweat.

The Australian troupe This Side Up have transformed the space into an old-fashioned laboratory, full of crash test dummies, blackboards and wonky contraptions. Here, a mad professor (clownish David Joseph) is conducting his experiments on falling and balancing with three men (Casey Douglas, James Brown and Christian Schooneveld-Reid) acting as his muscular guinea pigs. Together they push the boundaries of what the human body can achieve - balancing atop teetering towers of chairs, landing cat-like on slender beams and leaping on and off one another’s shoulders. In between set-pieces they tumble and fall about the stage with astonishing gymnastic grace.

All the usual circus elements are here - Russian bar, hand balancing and a gulp-inducing teeter board show to round things off - but This Side Up delivers them with a side order of quirky invention and, most of all, style. Dressed like 1930s off-duty gangsters in pinstripe trousers, shirt sleeves and soft felt bowler hats they carry out their spectacular but unflashy acts to a coolly syncopated jazz beat. A mesmerising hour.

To 31 Aug (08445 458 252)

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