What do you think of when you hear juggling? Possibly birthday clowns, or an ill-fated attempt at attending circus school off the A308, in a lay-by, in 1995? (Just us then??) Whatever your previous experience, chances are it won’t be anything like this! Poetic, absurd and stylistically dazzling, masters Patfield & Triguero are here to upend all your expectations with their seemingly effortless but technically deft creation, Gibbon.
‘It’s very important for us to be seen in rural communities. We are both from rural communities in Spain and Scotland respectively and we know first hand the importance of people having access to the kind of work that the Rural Touring Schemes continue to deliver.’
The show is a choreographed juggling production, combined with movement and visual theatre, that takes a comical look at self-awareness and our internal dialogue. If that all sounds a little highfalutin don’t be discouraged as it’s a genuinely funny and accessible show, one that can relate to all of our day-to-day lives. If you’ve ever felt like you’re juggling your responsibilities – perhaps work and family, or simply too many tasks to fit into one lifetime – this charming duo give voice to that on stage, with an aim to represent external vs internal human expectations. As José Triguero says, ‘We’re trying to make stuff all the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.’ This kind of off-the-cuff commentary is all part of the performance, one moment ducking and dipping, the next casually chatting to one another and providing such gems as ‘your head is like a massive ball’ and ‘you look like a teapot’.
The show is curiously hypnotic as they play with repetition and pattern, creating shapes with their bodies before sudden switches and unusual transitions (even ‘dropping the ball’) intentionally challenge the audience’s notions of success or failure. These tricks are timed to perfection and make juggling look effortless, easy even! It begs the question, how many times do you have to fail at something to make it perfect? Or is perfection even the end goal? (A message that applies to everyone, even those of us who aren’t professional jugglers – damn that roadside circus school!) The show features music from the mighty Benji Bouton and Kevin Toublant of MadMadMad, and the scene is completed with lighting design from Guy Dickens.
Patfield & Triguero have produced Gibbon in collaboration with the world-renowned Gandini Juggling who are ‘at the forefront of British Circus’ quiet revolution’. Formed in 1992 by Sean Gandini and Kati Ylä-Hokkala, the company has been reinventing and reinvigorating juggling for years. Since their inception, Gandini has performed over 30 productions, 5,000 shows in 50 countries (!) and done so in a vast variety of venues, including the Royal Opera House and The Royal National Theatre. Quite the résumé but their approach to juggling has always been ‘counter-current’, meaning they celebrate the artform in all its different facets with vibrant and thrilling performance pieces.
You can watch the trailer for Gibbon here:
What do the critics say about Gibbon?
★★★★ ‘Seriously interesting and wryly amusing.’ – The Guardian
★★★★★ ‘Stunningly skilful and imaginative.’ – The Stage
‘Absurd silliness. Packed with spirit [and] tenderness.’ – Exeunt Magazine
‘The combination of mesmerising manipulation and dry comedy left me wanting more.’ – Circus Diaries
‘Gibbon was an appealing, surreal mix of physical theatre and comedy juggling – this was an absorbing and entertaining work achieved through a powerful combination of technical skill and performance chemistry.’ – Resolution, 2018.
‘Gibbon is a very unusual show – creative choreography, incredible and masterful juggling skills and surreal humour. I liked the slightly ‘off the wall’ approach. It was about the right length…I’ve never seen anything like this before.’ – Live & Local Promoter
See Patfield & Triguero perform Gibbon as part of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI). The National Rural Touring Forum joined forces with The Place, Take Art and China Plate back in 2015 to deliver the RTDI. This innovative project, funded by Arts Council England, is helping to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of dance promoted by Rural Touring schemes all over the country. So far the scheme has worked with 40 companies, promoting 140 shows to just under 13,000 audience members.