Sick presented by NICA’s Bachelor of Circus Arts third-year students is a slick, sophisticated and utterly human contemporary circus work set in a fictional hospital with scenes straight out of uncanny valley. Inspired by guest director Gavin Marshall’s own extended hospital stay after a career-pivoting injury, Sick uses the superhuman abilities of its performers to explore illness, physical frailty, hospital politics and other scenes one might find in a hospital – real or fictional.
The physical abilities of the performers are impressive, but equally impressive are the acting and physical theatre skills required to pull off this theatrical, conceptual work. Scenes of satire and slapstick humour depicting waiting rooms, the various dynamics between staff and patients, and other hospital hierarchies are presented in novel ways using the mediums of duo work, corde de lisse, and tumbling. To the credit of the performers and the choreographer, these scenes on stage will be immediately recognisable to anyone who’s been in a hospital – circus flourishes notwithstanding. There are other moments of humanity that tug at the heart, such as an old woman with memory loss reminiscing about a halcyon romance and the melancholy of her daughter whom she no longer recognises…
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