EdFringe 2022 Review: Boom

‘…the future of circus’

Boom presents an entertainment spectacular with a Gen Z twist giving us a glimpse into the future of the world of circus. This collaborative project from Czech ensemble Cirk La Putyka and Ukraine’s Kyiv Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Art was born in March 2022, a few days after the outbreak of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. This is highly emotive circus with a heart centred on ideas of family, freedom and breaking borders.

Striking a tone of resilience and optimism, Boom presents a live on stage DJ soundtracking a variety of edgy circus acts including aerial work, trapeze acts, freestyle dance, juggling and pole climbing. Boom takes time to explore Ukrainian and Czech culture and the similarities that exist globally as Rostislav Novák, Artistic Director of Cirk La Putyka, shares Boom is “circus generations connected by one stage, one event, one moment.”

A mural adorns the background of the stage – a classic painting capturing a traditional snow ball fight, yet there’s a contemporary edge to part of it. Modern graffiti styles and cartoon-inspired drawings fuse with the more baroque style work, capturing the fusion of old and new styles which course throughout the production. A DJ stands at the side of the stage with his tech and equipment, providing intriguing electronic arrangements verging from the poppy to the ambient, which soundtrack the various spectacles of Boom and further heighten the high energy.

The cast arrive on stage with translucent helmets which make them look like babies from another planet – their movements are esoteric before they slowly remove their headgear. Routines begin with the Czech performers launching into a routine in which they all chant hashtags which adorn the world’s social media profiles capturing a society consumed by labelling, self-promotion and complete digital immersion. The Ukrainian performers soon arrive on stage clad in anoraks, before they slowly lose the large garments and begin to mix and make physical contact with their Czech counterparts.

Capturing ceremonial similarities, the sharing of bread with their new guests and sharing in one another’s traditional folk culture, a fusion of circus skills soon take centre stage. There is some truly impressive spectacle on display here – two gymnasts holding a balance beam as another walks across, performers climb polls of extraordinate height, and the talents spin their full bodies in giant metal hoops at a rapid speed.

The performers are keen to take the mic, directly talking to the audience – sharing their hopes and fears, likes and passions, and information about their current circumstance. This is refreshing as so often with circus themed shows, their talents are the sole interaction we have with performers. There are a plethora of aerial routines and trapeze acts, whilst a spot of juggling and clowning from one of the performers brings some quiet laughs.

Boom is at its most impressive in its final act. One of the performers shares that their director in his forties and felt he couldn’t wholly speak for his Gen Z cast and subsequently gave them creative control of the show’s last big spectacle. The result is real multitude of passions with each performer on stage capturing what they do best – it is a real feast for all the senses as euphoric electronic music soundtracks the variety of circus acts.

It really brings a tear to the eye, seeing these young Ukrainians and their supportive Czech neighbours crafting this celebration of resilience, passion and energy amidst a time of crisis back home. One of the Ukrainian gymnasts makes some closing words, thanking the audience for their warm reception – he shares “I hope everything will be alright.” It’s a simple, touching statement that captures a sense of hopefulness that radiates throughout Boom.

Boom runs until the 28th of August at Underbelly’s Bristo Square. Get tickets here.

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