‘Knee Deep’ is hard to categorise – and even harder to believe

The Casus quartet’s show would be very low-key if it wasn’t so jaw-dropping

Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 18:07

Knee Deep
Black Box Theatre, Galway Arts Festival

“Is she walking on . . . eggs?” the lady in the row behind asks her companion, clearly disbelieving the evidence of her own eyes as the Australian company Casus gets its show Knee Deep under way. Oh, yes. The female member of the cast is indeed walking on eggs; and that is only the start of it.

Knee Deep is difficult to describe, and even more difficult to categorise. It’s billed as “physical theatre/circus”, and the four members of this Brisbane-based company – Jesse Scott, Emma Serjeant, Natano Fa’anana and Lachlan McAulay – have honed their acrobatic skills to spectacularly high levels. But it’s a very different take on circus to the more traditional antics of Max the Catalan trampolinist and the trapeze artists Les Pepones, who had provided regular razzmatazz and physical gags in the streets of Galway over the weekend.

The Casus quartet use their bodies to explore themes of fragility, strength, trust and balance.

They shy away from narrative lines (though eggs appear to be a recurring theme). They hold each other up. They push each other down. They roll, tumble, dangle upside-down from silken ropes. Alliances form and melt away. It is fluid and deft and would be very low-key if it wasn’t so totally jaw-dropping.

As the shapes shift in a series of dream-like tableaux vivants, it becomes clear that this art form – whatever it is called – is very close to contemporary dance; or even to those martial-arts films where people fight, very beautifully, in slow motion.

Because there are few pauses in what turns out to be a very intense hour, the audience reaction is interesting. There is little laughter – just the occasional gasp as another body appears to defy gravity, or somebody is thrown across the stage and caught by somebody else.

And . . . hang on. Did that guy just re-enact Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man on a trapeze, balancing only on the top of his head? Or am I seeing things?
Until July 28