Theatre review: Driftwood circus

Gemma Doyle watched Driftwood, the latest show from the circus company Casus, at the Underbelly Festival on London's Southbank, and her heart was in her mouth…


Theatre review: Driftwood circus

Renowned for creating astounding human circus performances, Casus’s values celebrate humanity, friendship and connection and form the company’s signature style. The new show, Driftwood, focuses on people’s need for human contact and how we deal with danger, surviving tough times together.

I’ve seen and enjoyed this type of circus performance before and this was very intimate; the ‘spiegeltent’ with its raised centre platform means the audience is close enough to the performers to see the slighest wobble, the grimace of effort and the beads of sweat on their brow, but you accept that it might not be quite as ‘perfect’ as if you were seated further back, and you enjoy it all the more for its authenticity.

As the acrobats performed their stunts, my stomach was doing its own backflips, as I was so nervous for them! At one point, there was a tower of three people and I just pictured them toppling onto me in the audience – of course, that didn’t happen, but it’s the possibility that it might, that makes it thrilling.

My favourite moment was a short bit near the start of the show, when all five of the performers created a fan shape with their bodies; all moving together in a fluid and elegant movement that reminded me of the movement of a caterpillar. It was beautiful and so impressive to think what the human body is capable of.

There was lots to keep you entertained during the performance and it was incredibly inspiring. So much so that my 30-something boyfriend, who came with me, decided to re-enact parts of it when we got home! Needless to say, as he hadn’t done more than a forward roll since a PE lesson at school, he injured himself, although, thankfully, not severely. But it was entertaining for me at least! If you do go to see Driftwood, leave the acrobatics to the professionals!

Driftwood, by the acclaimed Australian circus company Casus, is running as part of the Underbelly Festival until 4 June. Tickets start from £10. For more information, visit and follow on Twitter @underbellyfest and Instagram @underbellyfestival

Photographs: Katie Bennett