The circus is given a dark, mournful twist in Limb(e)s, created by and starring Gabrielle Martin and Jeremiah Hughes. Their experimental show combines spell-binding movements with artistic lighting and an evocative soundscape to produce an innovative new mode of storytelling that is both striking and expressive. Martin and Hughes rely on their physical strength as well as the strength of their relationship in their exploration of the human body: its power and its fragility, and its dependence on others. The result is a unique, atmospheric show that gives you a renewed sense of admiration for the body.
Using only their bodies and a few suspended ropes, Martin and Hughes deftly construct striking visuals that celebrate the strength and perseverance of the human body. Split into solo and collaborative sequences, each scene is birthed from a single spotlight at the back of the stage, which helps to structure the performance and give it a sense of development. Although a sense of tension does build as the different scenes unfold, there is little continuity to be found between each scene, which renders the overall message of the piece lost.
The use of light and dark in the performance is particularly effective, with strategically placed spotlights of warm yellows and cool purples and blues alternately bathing the stage and constructing different atmospheres and emotions. The subtle nuances of the lighting choices perfectly compliment the performers’ movements, resulting in a complex dance of light and shadow across the stage that awes in its dramatic flair.
Although Martin and Hughes get the chance to showcase their talent individually in the solo sequences, the really memorable moments come when they collaborate, placing so much trust in one another’s bodies that audible gasps escape from the audience’s lips. Motifs of reaching and falling create stunning visuals that exhibit the strengths and limitations of the human body, and are punctuated by the original soundscape that accompanies the performers. Martin and Hughes are evidently very talented, and their strong sense of collaboration carries the show in the absence of a story or plot.
Limb(e)s is a hauntingly beautiful display of human strength that impresses with how artistic and well-crafted certain moments are. The immense trust between Martin and Hughes creates moments of intense visual power, highlighted by carefully considered lighting and the original soundscape crafted especially for the production. However, singular moments are not enough to keep an audience engaged for an extended period: the performance would have benefitted from a stronger sense of development or plot to keep the audience spellbound.
Limb(e)s was on at Assembly Roxy Central
Image: YF Photography