How much fun can you have with a massive elastic band? If you're Barely Methodical Troupe, the answer turns out to be rather a lot. Hot on the heels of their last piece of acro-theatre, Shift takes some of the discombobulation in the narrative setup of Kin and weaves it through the entire performance. Players bounce from actor to storyteller to human manikin to - in one instance - furniture with extraordinary ease and agility.
Intertwining this liquid underpinning is complex, breath-taking and flawless circus performance that happens so suddenly and without fanfare that you are left slightly confused as to whether it really happened. Shift states its intention to play with your perceptions, and it does - breaking the fourth wall in the strongest way since Pandora 88 - sowing the seeds of bewilderment, nurturing the audience's curiosity until it bursts unstoppably through from the other side - we yearn to understand, and cannot help but step through into the world of the performance.
The circus work is faultless - lithe bodies leap onto other shoulders, and heads balance upside-down on other heads without apparent bother. Throw in some extraordinary acro-break-dance and cyr wheel between set-piece human towers and suitably persistent punning (band of brothers, anyone?) and you have a recipe for a very powerful piece of theatre which breaks boundaries as quickly as it finds them.
Having seen their previous work, Kin, I found Shift to be very different. It's much more 'grown up' in that it makes the audience work a lot harder to extract a meaning from the piece. That being said, it still has enough visual amazement to engage theatre-goers of all ages - but you will have to get stuck in if you want to come away with a feeling of having got anywhere near the bottom of the narrative arc of the piece. Perhaps it doesn't have one - and the experience is one of searching, finding something else, then realising you were never looking in the first place. When you do look, you find theatre at its raw-est, and the human body working over-time to show you what's really possible. A true privilege. Don't miss it.