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Review: Escalate at Underbelly, George Square – Udderbelly - Ed Fringe

Review By Kate Gaul


Australia’s Melbourne based Throw Catch Collective present their virtuosic juggling show “Escalate” for audiences young and old (although its’ possibly most engaging for 10yrs and above). Performers Byron Hutton, Richard Sullivan, Samuel Kreusler present a tightly formatted presentation where Hutton and Sullivan do most of the throwing and catching and Kreusler accompanies on guitar with original compositions. He’s no slouch though when it comes to joining the occasional juggling routine. Known to me by reputation only (and YouTube) it was a pleasure to encounter the work first hand in Edinburgh. I’m a bit of a juggling fan and one of the glowing stamps of approval for this team is their mentorship by Sean Gandini. Sidebar: if you don’t know the work of the Gandini jugglers please google, watch, and be amazed – but after reading this, please!


Hey, but this is our own home-grown Aussie trio and bravo to them for gaining more than a toe hold in a very niche artform. Great that they are getting some exposure in the big tent too! Timing is everything and Throw Catch Collective add percussion to some scenes with the use of body mics which means the work can be intimate, gentle, and really invite an audience in. This was juggling with some orange-sized balls. Other scenes are performed with a series if rings and other with the traditional clubs. I guess you could call this visual and aural choreography.


“Escalate:” is best described as energetic, rhythmic, and brimming with concentration.


A word on the music – it’s very posh Spanish sounding guitar and I read that Samuel Kreusler has worked in many arts contexts and was commissioned by the University of Melbourne to create an original work to celebrate the re-launch of Southbank campus. This work was showcased at the Accademia Dell’arte in Florence. Nice! The team also use some of Kreusler’s electronica to add to the atmospherics at times.


Lighting is everything from glow-in-the-dark to a pleasing wash – it’s the kind of show where the performers actually need to see the apparatus after all.


The guys are serious. Rhythmically this show is on a par with “Stomp” and technically the work would be at home in a “Cirque de Soleil” show. But it’s neither of these. I would have loved if - in-between throwing and catching – they could choregraph some eye contact with the audience, a smile, let us hear the count in. We want to connect with these intrepid performers and not just sit back in admiration. The audience is mixed age range and a handful of techniques could bridge that gap and help us recognise the human effort behind the mastery. No-one cares if you drop the ball – this is live theatre and it’s going to happen – but don’t miss the opportunity for loads more fun, and the possibility of enticing younger hearts and minds into the world of “Escalate”

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