Bromance - Edinburgh Frige

Bromance is a circus-theatre piece exploring homosocial intimacy and personal space, starting from handshakes and working its way into dance, Cyr wheel work and hand-to-hand acrobatics. Though it’s thin on plot, the conceit of the interrelationships between the trio giving rise to high-flying acrobatic feats (and vice versa) works: we buy that it’s as much a show about their relationships with masculinity as it is a showcase of their technical capabilities.

There’s certainly a wider debate to be had about the role that queerbaiting plays in Bromance. It’s title pushes at the #nohomo brand of masculinity that is so prevalent in certain corners of dance and allied industries: the “it’s fine to be camp, to be feminine, to be physically close to other men, as long as we’re all clear that I’m not gay” perspective. Is Bromance tongue-in-cheek? Is it unaware of the problematics it wraps itself in? The performance tends towards the former; aside from one ‘almost kissing then pulling away’ moment in the opening scene, it feels like a refreshingly candid and (as far as possible) apolitical exploration of intimacy. It doesn’t feel as though the performers are pushing at LGBTQ+ identities for laughs; it feels deeper and more complex than the playground homophobia it cites. And, of course, to expect the performers to either declare their respective sexualities or be branded ‘problematic’ brings its own baggage. All in all, I felt this aspect was generally well-handled.

Though the obvious standout from Bromance would be the Cyr wheel performance from (aptly-named) Charlie Wheeler, for me, the show-stealing moment was the opening physical theatre sequence. Gorgeously fluid and immaculately choreographed, it hit that balance between looking effortless and remaining absolutely precise; “it’s like gravity doesn’t exist,'' muttered someone in the row behind me. Proving why three is definitely not a crowd, Barely Methodical Troupe’s Bromance is absolutely one to catch before the end of the fringe.

Clodagh Chapman