“In the past two and a half years, the only man who’s ever held my hand is JD.”
A two-hander performed by Nikki Rummer and JD Broussé - a duo of incredibly adept performers and acrobats - KNOT is a pared-back exploration of intimacy, acrobatics and falling out of love; of waiting your whole life for something and pulling away at the final moment. With visceral hand-to-hand acrobatics underscored by gorgeously mellow compositions (Tim Lenkiewicz), KNOT feels like a real melting pot of creative minds working to make something slightly magical.
But KNOT isn’t simply a show of technical brilliance: it builds its own coherent movement vocabulary, blending high-flying acrobatics with both lyrical floor work and monologue. Exploring the relationship between its two performers, it offers up a fresh take on the almost-cliched “boy meets girl, as told through physical theatre” brand of performance. It lets its form do narratological legwork: physical storytelling not just through metaphor, but through the collapse of metaphors, missed catches and near-misses. I almost wanted KNOT to lean further into its physical storytelling; at moments, I felt as though monologues were telling us what we already knew - revealing lies and backstories which were already implied.
Another large part of what made KNOT so refreshing was its irreverence. Physical theatre has a reputation for attracting swathes of black-turtlenecked fresh drama school graduates and KNOT was self-aware in this respect. It was eager to keep keep the storytelling fairly light with dry wit, such that its more earnest moments hit home far harder. This also made the form much more accessible - not relying on a working knowledge of metaphor in physical theatre, and not creating a piece of physical theatre and tagging on some jokes and meaning, but successfully pulling on those very human threads of loss and wonder.
Though its exposition is occasionally a little too ham-handed, KNOT makes for a crash-course in storytelling through circus - successfully bending the form into something where the movement serves the story. Whether you’re an avid circus fan or a total movement-phobe, KNOT is definitely worth a watch.