Tetralogy of Fallot is a rare congenital heart problem, and the inspiration for Fallot (FÄ-'LŌ) – an abstract autobiographical exploration of acrobat Marianna Joslin’s experiences with the condition. In a cruel twist, a torn knee ligament has forced Joslin to take on more sidelined duties (narration and the occasional lift). But her choreography lives on through a new recruit and the change in cast has lost none of the production’s impact.
For physical shows like this it’s easy to tack on a narrative or apply meaning after the fact; in Fallot the show is the meaning, with cardiac imagery woven into every step of each act. A silks routine is reimagined as surgical procedure; a performer’s 'Night Girl' doppelgänger (her alter ego when under anaesthetic) joins her on the trapeze; boisterous brothers dance with wheeled hospital privacy curtains. And the off-kilter soundtrack is glitchy, arrythmic and unsettling.
It’s an enchantingly personal reinterpretation of familiar circus. And many routines pluck pairs from the quintet to explore the dualities of frailty and inner strength, of sleep and wake, of life and death. A wire-frame heart (hollow, but full of blood-esque silk) hangs above the stage, as a reminder.
The show is, overall, an eerie portrayal of the effects a condition like that can have on the psyche, but ends on a cheery note. Through its suffering, and for want of a better expression, Fallot is full of heart.