On entry to Undertone each audience member is given a ping pong ball. An ensemble of one female and three male circus performers appear and bring a table on to the stage which is wired up. Each performer leaps and tumbles across the table, and the sound is looped by Zoltan Fresco whom creates an electronic music soundscape to the performance.
Undertone presents as 'urban grunge' or 'street circus'; the ensemble wear denim, they take big physical risks, and they are prepared to fail, and try again. They also issue challenges to each other within the performance which they take on with bravado.
At first we see a series of tumbles and acrobalances which leads into a quirky and comic game of tennis or ping-pong. The audience participates by throwing in their ping-pong balls to assist with the challenge. We feel safe; not knowing what is to come next.
Down from the ceiling drops a large thick rope, and a performer climbs it (in jeans!) and ups the difficulty of the performance. He is followed by his ensemble whom join him to swing like monkeys on the rope making it look easy. The table is brought underneath the rope and a performer attempts to balance on a stack of large rolla bollas and succeeds momentarily before they collapse.
Just as the audience sighs with relief, the ensemble brings out a massive vertical steel pole. The largest male of the ensemble climbs the pole and then slides upside down the pole hitting his neck – the audience screams. I look at my friend and she has turned a whiter shade of pale. He gets up walks off the stage, and reappears later to perform other tricks.
Circus can be scary, and Undertone kept the audience on its toes, highly engaged and at times in terror. Warning: do not try any of these tricks at home. Go to see Undertone instead and be amazed and challenged.