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Family Acrobatics, Cool Music and a lot of Hugs

Picture credit: Ockham’s Razor

York Theatre Royal welcomed the Ockham’s Razor aerial theatre company for what was possibly the best post-lockdown show idea: 70 minutes of acrobatics, family, love and a terrific soundtrack.

‘You know this feeling when you wake up and feel dislocated, says a voice, or something along those lines. I know the feeling. We probably all do now, after what can only be described as the weirdest year ever. Confused, detached, disconnected: most mornings came with such adjectives, as we all painfully digested this sudden solitude imposed on us by the pandemic.

What happened last Tuesday, when the voice talked about this dislocated feeling, was that for all of us who heard it, the solitude was gone. At least for the night. Because we were in the theatre. As part of an audience. Watching performers, with no screen nor mute button on sight. Theatres reopened on 17 May in the UK, but Ockham’s Razor, an aerial theatre company, were performing their first show in 16 months. And it happens that their show is possibly the best thing to attend as life gets gradually
more normal .

First of all, because aerial theatre means acrobatics, and acrobatics mean a lot of touching. Before even realising it, we’re moved by the very fact that in front of us, four people are grabbing each other by various bit. And I mean, I didn’t necessarily imagine I would ever say that, but seeing hands in hands, feet in hands, or knees in hands for that matter, is really magnificent. So long, stupid elbow bump! This Time is a show offering you, amongst other things, 70 minutes of athletic mingling. And that’s very much needed.

Quite logically, the performance is a poetic journey through life, family, love, and the need for others. It starts with performer Lee Carter (who started her career as an aerial dancer at the age of 50, a lesson of hope in itself), perched on a floating raft. She’s soon joined by Charlie Wilson, an unbelievable young artist, and by Alex Harvey and Charlotte Mooney, Ockham’s Razor co-artistic directors. The quarter intertwines in a gentle choreography. Its meaning is revealed by the light. Behind them, the comedian’s shadows look like sloths napping in a tree.  A family tree perhaps, as a thread for the show to follow.

Indeed, the aerial acrobatics alternate with very intimate confessions, delivered by each actor alone before the audience. These monologues speak of childhood, motherhood, sisterhood. They’re hopeful slices of life, followed by choreographies that function as punctuation marks. Most of these pictures take part in the air- all performers, whether younger or older, are both graceful and agile.

We were interested to test the limits of any age and question what is imposed by our own and other’s expectations, said Charlotte Mooney. This seemed relevant at both ends of the spectrum- we underestimate children as much as we infantilise the old. This notion feeds the show as much as the idea of memories. We live in a society that puts enormous emphasis on the idea of family- but what does that mean? Do we really see older people (besides the venerable 35-year-old selling you anti-ageing cream)? And do we actually consider children, beyond the concept of having them, or the social accomplishment they represent? This Time reconciles generations and bodies and makes us think about the level of trust we place in people outside the 20-54 workforce . And it does all that, with a really cool soundtrack.

Written by Lucie Fehlbaum

This Time was at York Theatre Royal on 8 and 9 June. It will be in London Sunday 20 June. More tour dates here: https://www.ockhamsrazor.co.uk/tour
Full York Theatre Royal program: https://www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk/whats-on/
More on the company: https://www.ockhamsrazor.co.uk/