Breathtaking acrobatics in a 12th century church – ‘How Like an Angel’ – Beyond Barbican



Circa & I Fagiolini ‘s ‘How Like An Angel’ is a suspenseful, riveting and tense experience. It’s daring and at times seems near impossible what you are witnessing.  This was all down to the 6 amazing acrobats who make up the Australian acrobatic company, Circa and I Fagiolini , a Renaissance vocal ensemble , who together gave an awe-inspiring performance in one of London’s most ancient churches.

This summer the Barbican is expanding their ever-buzzing programme by taking their cultural offerings outside of their own playground to various places around East London with ‘Beyond Barbican ‘. The setting for ‘How Like An Angel’ was the stunning St. Bartholomew the Great church which dates back to the 12th Century.  While the crowd walked into the entrance passing under the tall arches,  an aroma of incense is pumped into the air. There’s a tense anticipation as we wait for something to happen. I kept looking up to see if one of the acrobats was going to fly overhead but the show opens with the Fagiolini singers at both ends filling the hollow church with a haunting hymn. The acrobats do not leap over our heads but run a white sheet over us as if we were all children under our bed sheets with a flashlight. The sheet is suddenly snapped away and becomes an electric blue which transports us into this Circa / Fagiolini dream world.

From this point onward it was an evening of incredible acrobatic stunts and performances. Each performer demonstrated their individual strengths whether it be the physical strength of Rowan Heydon-White to hold nearly three others on her shoulders at the same time or Bridie Hooper’s ability to bend her body in ways that do not seem possible.  I particularly loved the harmony among this ensemble and the level of trust needed to do the work they do. This harmony was also present between the singers and the acrobats. They were definitely more of an organic whole rather than two separate performance groups.  At a certain point one of the choir members was in the centre of the stage with some of the female acrobats wrapping their legs and arms around her even enticing her to come closer as one bent her leg over her head in a ‘ come closer’ gesture with her toes.

How Like An Angel is presented by the Barbican as part of Beyond Barbican. Produced by Norfolk and Norwich Festival in association with Circa and I Fagiolini. It is also part of the City of London Festival

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About Melissa Palleschi

Melissa Palleschi New York actress living in London and trained in Italy, New York and here in London at the Actors Studio. She is also a founding member of the Planktonic Players, who made their London debut at Camden Fringe Festival in 2012.


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