Pirates of the Carabina - Flown

Bristol Creative Common, 1st October 2013

Pirates of the Carabina - FlownPirates of the Carabina are a new-circus company formed of British and international circus artists and musicians. Their show “Flown” was originally commissioned by Glastonbury Festival and created with the help of Bristol’s Invisible Circus.

Since its inception the Pirates have toured all over the UK including, Glastonbury Festival, the Southbank and Edinburgh Festival, where they won the Total Theatre Award for Physical / Visual Theatre at the Fringe.

Now the Pirates sail into Bristol’s Creative Common, as part of Bristol’s Circus Festival 2013, with their show Flown.

Exciting, funny and full of skill, Flown brought together theatre, live music and circus arts seamlessly, as the best modern circus does. The cast are extremely impressive, not just for the obvious and often daring circus skills but because almost every member is an accomplished actor/actress and musician as well.

Jakko Tenhunen in his Cyr wheelEach of the characters in the show had their own monologue or piece of dialogue. Some more serious than others, like Ellis Grover, the tight wire performer’s reverie about his two loves; the wire and a girl from school. Others were downright hilarious. Jakko Tenhunen, the Finnish Cyr wheel and hand-balancer’s attack on British weather and Brits’ obsession with skinny jeans was brilliantly comic.

My favourite comic element to the show was the prima donna character played by Gwen Hales. Entering and exiting the stage in a carriage pulled by the world’s smallest horse and made up to look ridiculously glamorous, she was constantly prone to wardrobe malfunctions, screaming tantrums at other cast members and technical glitches in her performances.

Despite these choreographed and highly amusing glitches Gwen’s silks routine was skilful and innovative. Her super-long silk was used as a kind of swing at one point and it allowed her to extend a rolling drop as the climax of her act provoking the audience into rapturous applause.

Gwen and her tiny horse drawn carriageWhatever the mood of the characters I didn’t once feel that these were circus performers trying to act – the acting, though perhaps not as challenging, was just as accomplished as the circus elements. The same goes for the musicianship. Some of the ensemble were purely musicians but the circus artists all contributed to the music as well playing guitars, cellos, violins, percussion, a harmonica and two of the female vocalists could easily have made careers from their voices alone.

My personal favourite circus artist was the Chinese pole performer, Laura Moy. She had two major acts; one on a traditional Chinese pole with Barny Wreyford that was excellently choreographed and full of feeling and tenderness. The other featured a swinging Chinese pole and was an extended solo routine. This act was jam-packed with technical moves and sequences and featured at least one drop that had the audience gasping in unity. It was literally breath-taking. Combined with the music, Laura’s solo act the most beautiful, as well as technically accomplished, act in the whole show. It sent tingles down my spine.

Pirates of the Carabina are a young troupe, having only formed in 2011. I am eager to see how they develop in their next show but in the meantime recommend anyone in Bristol, or who can get the train there easily (the Creative Common is right next to Temple Meads station) to go and see Flown.

Laura Moy and Ellis GroverFor more information of the Pirates of the Carabina check out their website. You can also see the trailer for Flown here.

To book tickets to Flown in Bristol and for further information on other happenings in the Bristol Circus Festival 2013 head on over here.

Pirates of the Carabina - Flown