It was Saturday, we’d spent a packed afternoon milling around the Vintage Festival and competing in the Championsheeps, I was taking a tired but happy six year old home when a friend called.
“Come up to the top of Winckley Square,” she said. “There are some men doing somersaults off a see-saw.”
We made our way through the thinning crowds in the late afternoon sunshine to be met with a real treat, two French men clad only in 20 denier patterned tights diving onto and somersaulting off what looked like a make-shift see-saw, breaking only to slowly step theatrically around and look lovingly into each others eyes. All to the sound of live French rock. It was saucy, energetic and funny. The crowd loved it.
Afterwards I was excited, I’d booked tickets earlier in the year to see the same acrobatic troupe, Compagnie Bam, perform ‘Switch’ at the Big Top on Monday night. The show was sold out, the Big Top packed full of families. I felt for those sat at the back of the Big Top, after the show I spoke to one family who would have preferred to see the act on the street, it was hard to appreciate it from such a distance, watching it on the large screens that flanked the stage.
The show kicked off with live music and a very French and comical introduction, then the five acrobats set to work, gracefully gliding up a forty foot pole and somersaulting off, launching from the wooden see-saw – a teeterboard – into the air and landing like monkeys onto the pole. The five cartwheeled, jumped, lurched and tumbled about the stage. It looked effortless as they synchronised, blending a complex act with comedy and live music.
The pace only slowed, as they constructed a larger teeterboard live on stage and had a rather unusual interlude involving an umbrella and a blindfolded man being rotated as he stood there clad only in his underpants, whilst another gyrated in his trousers with his back to the audience. These men have magnificent physiques, for sure. The show ended in a riot of rock and roll with les hommes diving about the stage. It was pacey, chaotic and a lot of fun. Inspiring for any young gymnasts in the audience. My whole family loved it. C’était formidable!