Bromance, an acrobatic show from London that has opened at the New Victory Theater, offers strength-defying acts and acrobatics. Geared towards a younger audience, the creation by Charlie Wheeller, Louis Gift and Beren D’Amico includes hand-to-hand feats, the cyr wheel and various types of dancing. They incorporate humorous gestures and silly body movements that are choreographed to draw infectious laughs from children.
The trio met while attending circus school and from there went on to form Barely Methodical Troupe, a company that fuses acrobatics, dance, parkour, b-boying (break dancing) and the cyr wheel into their routine. Gift is the muscle of the group. His strength and agility are top-notch. He is the one doing most of the heavy lifting and flipping. He is the rock for these difficult and dangerous stunts but he isn’t only a muscleman. He is also trained in parkour and graces the stage with his jumps and flips. Charlie Wheeller specializes in the cyr wheel. He is also a very skilled acrobat showcasing tremendous restrain while holding positions that require a lot of strength. The third of the troupe, D’Amico is a trained martial artist. He has great quality of movement. His acrobatic ability is precise, depicting keen hand-to-hand coordination and strength.
One act that had audience members on the edge of their seats was the human tower. The performers climbed over one another until they were all stacked up, without supportive gear. (Barely Methodical Troupe’s strength lies in its natural ability to engage and hold an audience’s attention with feats of physical daring and strength. They actively participate with their audience and respond to children’s hellos and wows.)
One of the most captivating segments of this 50-minute show was the cyr wheel, on which the aptly named Wheeller delivers a strong performance. He turns and rotates, all the while maintaining extreme precision and balance. He swiftly changes the angles of his rotations from very low, close to the floor, to almost completely upright. Wheeller, a true master at his craft, floored the children with his performance.
The Barely Methodical troupe works together seamlessly on the physical elements, but they need some fine-tuning for the few speaking moments. Sometimes their voices fail to carry, and it is difficult to understand them. Their story line is also puzzling. Their implied narrative focuses on male platonic relationships in an attempt to break down stereotypical gender barriers, but whether their targeted audience, children, will walk away with that message is unclear. Although children may not notice the theme of the show, parents will notice, especially in moments when the line between platonic and romantic is blurred—and those moments are awkward.
Overall, though, Barely Methodical meshes its content with its form. They end with a showcase of their extremely toned, athletic bodies. Bromance offers strong performances with stage presence and strength abilities. The team performs extraordinary human feats of balance, agility, and motor coordination. Their show merits artistic mastery and precision of execution. They provide a new perspective on circus performances. It is one unique night of circus—and men.
Bromance runs through Feb. 24 at the New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd St., between Seventh and Eighth avenues). Full-price tickets start at $16, and are available at the box office or by calling (646) 223-3010 or visiting newvictory.org.