LEO

[For WeLoveBrighton.com]

Globe-trotting Y2D Productions’ LEO has finally landed on our side of the pond. This multi-award winning show has triggered many a gasp from audiences across New York, Moscow and the Edinburgh Fringe… and it isn’t hard to see why. This one man, one-of-a-kind physical theatre piece not only defies theatrical convention, but it also challenges our sense of gravity and reality through the clever interplay of superlative acrobatic performance and high tech video projection.

LEO_Credit_AndyPhillipson_2

From the get-set-go of curtain up, we are introduced to LEO and his topsy-turvy world. Trapped in a single room, he begins to realise that gravity isn’t what it once was. To his dismay, his hat gets stuck to the wall, his legs repel the floor and everything becomes a lot more… bendy and bizarre. Flummoxed by his tie’s stubbornness to lie horizontally, LEO discovers that he is suddenly able to do weird and wonderful things with his body, and with the room itself. He becomes a modern-day Spiderman (minus the outfit), navigating walls and making sense of the space whilst floating, for the most part upside-down, inside-out and back-to-front, across surfaces and ceilings within his personal, gravity-defining cube. As he tries to understand the limits and loopholes of this new realm of reality, LEO slowly starts figuring out what’s possible and what isn’t – no wait, everything’s possible. The more LEO experiments with his world, the more he starts to have fun with it. As do we!

Aside from mind-melting and brain-bending illusions, what else can you expect? Well, LEO’s magical-musical suitcase will certainly shake things up – the various tunes that emit out of the luggage inspire LEO to play around with his new-found weightlessness. We get the very best of where dance meets physical theatre. It is very, very cool. Even though the techniques used are elegantly simple and easily identifiable, you’ll probably find yourself wondering how on earth he can do those things with his body. He defies the laws of nature!

There is a team of three LEO’s – and tonight’s LEO, aka an “acro-dance-clown-music-graphic hybrid”, is one hell of a talented performer. Not only can he dance, walk on walls and mould his body into any necessary position, but he can also play the harmonica… oh and he’s an incredible artist too. I don’t know anybody else who can draw such a convincing cat, especially while hanging upside-down. Also, his drawings come alive. And that’s in the literal sense. Think I’m kidding? I’m not.

Saying that, the show could do with picking up pace and shaving off perhaps fifteen minutes or so. There are times when the choreography goes on for too long, triggering evident restlessness within the aisles of the auditorium. For the most part, we laugh along at the ridiculousness and wonder of LEO’s situation, but this engagement dips as certain elements are overly drawn out. It is a case of over-egging the pudding, I’m afraid, and it is because of this that some of the magic is lost. The show could be condensed into a much shorter timeframe without losing its overall essence, which would help the audience maintain a high level of awe throughout. It’s a shame because LEO deserves better. However, I do not deny that this show achieves a breath-taking level of ‘extraordinary’ and, all in all, this is a spellbinding, gasp-evoking, dazzler of a show.