Boom review – powerful, humane circus collaboration

There’s something special about Boom. In March 2022, young artists from the Cirk La Putyka ensemble in Prague and the Kyiv Municipal Academy of Circus and Variety Arts first met each other after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. Boom transforms this life-altering situation into an effervescent display of acrobatic collaboration that never loses sight of a shared humanity.

The show opens by depicting day-to-day life for these Gen Z artists in Prague. Wearing huge transparent heads, they compulsively swipe left and right under a pale grey light. Dizzying aerial tricks communicate the incessant nature of rolling hashtags and constant selfies. These well done, if not overly original sketches of a mundane, somewhat unthinking life, come to a standstill when the Ukrainian artists arrive huddled in large overcoats. There’s a painful maturity to how all the young performers hold the physical and emotional space between them, recognising the still present and blunt brutality of war.

Holding the emotional space between them … Boom.
Holding the emotional space between them … Boom. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

From here, a dance of curiosity unfolds as the artists share their personalities, histories, and love of circus. The choreography is sensitively and adroitly done. Different circus acts spiral off and inspire each other: Cyr wheel meets hoops, acrobats ricochet off each other with shared momentum.

It’s all lit under a cool, neon gaze, while live electronic music manipulation adds a cohesive frame to the continuing evolution of impressive tricks, spoken testimony and traditional song and imagery.

It’s not the tightest show – it looses its footing towards the end and doesn’t evolve from individual interactions into a larger ensemble piece. But it is inspiring in its youthful energy, talent, and honesty.

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