Young performers from Cirk La Putyka in Prague and the Kyiv Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Arts came together for this mesmerising and deeply personal show. The performers explored their own lives, commonalities and differences, relating to one another through movement and creative expression.
They first met in March 2022, only days after the war in Ukraine broke out, when the young performers fled from Kyiv and started to live and artistically collaborate with Cirk La Putyka, a Czech theatre company focusing on contemporary circus disciplines.
Boom tells the story of this collaboration, from their lives before the war, their first emotionally fragile and reluctant meeting, to the process of getting to know each other and each other’s bodies, and finally working together on a joint act. Other themes are also explored, notably the role of social media in the lives of these young people, and the impact they can have on body image and one’s own experiences of one’s physicality.
The production is underscored by energetic and at times hauntingly moody music and lighting that weave the different scenes together, creating a captivating atmosphere. It feels more intimate and character driven than what you might expect from a traditional circus production, because this show centres around the lives of the artists and their relationships to one another. The choreography also brings out the best in each individual performer and seeks to highlight their artistic strengths and personal preferences.
The story and its emotions are told through a wide variety of circus acts including aerial silks, a cyr wheel, juggling, acrobatics, and contemporary dance. For their young age, these performers are exceptionally skilled and convey so many raw emotions through their collective movement, which is only intensified when they share personal stories of war and friendship with the audience.
Although the show is not directly about the war in Ukraine, but rather about the creative collaboration and friendships that formed as a result of it, it is clear that the production is not apolitical and does have a wider impact. A portion of the show’s profits is donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee, which raises funds to provide relief and aid to people facing humanitarian crises, including those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
When the performers learnt that there were some Ukrainian refugees in the audience, the entire McEwan Hall erupted with spontaneous cries of ‘Slava Ukraini’ (meaning Glory to Ukraine), and you could physically feel the solidarity and hope in the air.
You can watch Boom at the Underbelly (Bristo Square – McEwan Hall) every day at 15:30 until the 28th of August, except for the 22nd. The show will then have its Czech premiere at the end of September.
Image: Lesley Martin, provided to The Student as press material.