Those lucky enough to have caught Australian contemporary circus troupe Casus for their two short but sweet Liverpool performances were in for a treat; a genuinely breathtaking spectacle that leaves the mind boggling at the wonders of the human body.
Their work Knee Deep is hard to define, a mix of acrobatics and physical theatre with a sprinkle of illusion – or is it? The show begins with performer Emma Sergeant balancing on a plank as she walks with her full weight over several boxes of eggs (we are left in no doubt they are real). Later, she will appear to hammer a nail up her nose. But on the whole, Casus need little but themselves to create human works of art that leave an audience open-mouthed.
The group, completed by Jesse Scott, Lachlan McAuley and Natano Fa’anana, make human towers, throw and catch each other, and swing from ropes and trapezes in the kind of performance you rarely see; there is no showboating or showing off, no pretending their stunts might fail to add the drama, no flashy costumes – it’s not even clear whether they desire applause, in case it should throw them off balance. We do applaud however. When something this impressive is happening just feet before you, when you can hear the exhalation of breath as one acrobat lands in another’s arms, it is impossible not to be moved.
They certainly do not make it look easy; the power of Casus is in their complete fearlessness and the intensity of their control. As they use each other’s bodies as ladders to climb human towers, or balance each other from the trapeze, each performer simply looks as if they were born to be doing it. When approaching the kind of stunt that would have a mere mortal laugh in disbelief or simply flat-out refuse to attempt, they simply get on with it, as if hanging from a rope 30 feet above us by one foot was just one of those things.
Southport-born Emma is not there to look pretty, either. As the other performers stand on her back as they make a human tower, she carries their weight, moving from face-down, to all fours, to kneeling up without so much as a wobble. The strength and stamina of Casus is incredible – and, you ponder as you’re leaving the show, something almost superhuman. Do not miss the chance to catch them if you can.