The soft and the steely bump and glide together in this second circus theatre show from award-winning Barely Methodical Troupe. Five men compete in a series of inexplicable tasks, dictated by sole woman Nikki Rummer: part reality TV challenge, part dating app, and overlaid with something darker and more subtle. Directed by Ben Duke of Lost Dog dance company, the strong choreographic sensibility of Kin is unsurprising, while a genuine buddy humour is carried over from BMT's first work, Bromance. Acrobatic skills are high, and showcase hand-to-hand, Cyr wheel and teeterboard between the company of six.
There is something of Beckett's allegorical absurdism about the show, where circus artists are forced to perform their bag of tricks to please an inscrutable judge in a world whose rules we never quite see. Mysteries remain: what is the prize? What's at stake? Who is on the other end of the big red telephone?
There is a disjunct in quality between the script and the physical imagery, with textual transitions between minimal phrasing and everyday banter grinding awkwardly at times. A well-chosen soundtrack, though, is used to add contextual mood through lyrics and melody.
Charlie Wheeller's Cyr solo is unhurried and beautiful, complemented later by Jonathan Bendtsen's less lyrical style. An elegant and unusual construction of a black-caped three-high tower gives a tingle moment, and Beren D'Amico's eccentric explosions of courtship are one of many triggers for full-blown laughter.
When tables slightly twist, a cathartic satisfaction allows us into Rummer's psyche a little too, and the whole is an excellent choice for top-drawer post-classical circus.