Review: Boom at McEwan Hall - Ed Fringe

Reviewed by Natalie Low

The stage is unassuming when you enter. A simple backdrop with a medieval inspired painting of children playing, with a simple statement # WINTER SNOWBALL FIGHT. But once the show starts, it transports you into a wholly different world. Boom is a circus performance collaboration between the Cirk La Putyka ensemble and the Kyiv Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Arts of Czechia and the Ukraine, just mere months after the war in Ukraine broke out. First staged in March 2022, they have now found themselves here at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The simple set is rather deceiving as the use of hoops, aerial silks, and Chinese pole is dropped down from the rig when being used. The lighting is reflective of the mood of the young performers – bright, colourful, and vibrant. From the beginning, they rely on colourful lighting to introduce the performances, and it slowly pulls back as the show goes on to a simpler white light. The costumes are a mix of medieval inspired mashed with modern-day hip-hop clothing, jeans, parachute pants, and gymnastic outfits. It is not quite clear why the medieval theme was used throughout the performance, as there were never really references to it. The show also does remind you constantly that the performers are all Gen Z and despite all the differences, they have more in common than anyone would think.

What Boom has done well is the fusion between genres and smooth transitions in the show. After a series of impressive flips, aerial silk work, and gymnastic acts to wow the crowd, the music slows down and 2 of the performers come to the mic stands set up on either end of the stage. They introduce themselves – one is from Prague, while the other is from the Ukraine. As they introduce themselves, performers come onstage, and begin a series of round-by-throughs. Performers in their traditional clothing then come onstage and start to sing – mirror each other. This all happens while a trapeze artist is being lowered and begin a series of complicated movements. Soon, a pattern is slowly shown as pairs of performers come on – either doing tricks with hoops, acrobats, or pole climbing, and you start to notice that as one is performing a trick, the other is watching out for them, and they start playing with each other. As more pairs come onstage, they start each trick by giving each other a hug, and they end each trick with a hug too. The show’s message becomes more and more evident: We are here together as friends.

The next transition sees 2 more performers come onstage and introducing their cultures and how similar their language actually are. They begin speaking, and you are forced to listen as they are spot lit and nothing else is happening onstage. This is followed by 2 groups of performers coming onstage facing each other. The 2 performers at the mic stands then talk a tradition they share – they provide bread sprinkled with salt for any guest that visits them. They then present a loaf of bread and feed each group.

The groups then come together and break into smaller groups of dancers, acrobats, and more circus acts. All the acts are so synchronised, yet not completely identical – each performer bringing their own personality to the performance. The music is all transitioned smoothly as the DJ is mixing the music live – standing just slightly offstage to watch the whole performance and switching as the performance calls it to.

The show never gets boring, as there is an equal balance of circus acts, dancing, and comedic physical theatre thrown in the acts as well. Soon, you begin to realise that they are mirroring the backdrop – they are all just kids having fun. At the end, they bring out large foam balls, and start throwing them at each other and the final mirror image is complete – they are now a part of the medieval painting conducting a # WINTER SNOWBALL FIGHT.

The overall show is young, vibrant, and the Gen Z shine with the talents they have throughout this show. It was a wonderful eye-opening experience of the melding of cultures, and they do not shy away from the fact that the Ukraine is currently amid war. While they do not try re-enacting any form of conflict, the message that shines through the whole show is strong: They will not allow war to ruin their resolve to creating a better world – a world that involves more snowball fights and dancing.

Image Supplied