Fisticuffs is a many-men-in-one-man show. It honours the FRINGE WORLD tradition of not honouring tradition.
Have you ever seen a mixed martial arts clown? Heard the neurotic rants of an aerialist acrobat? The vexed interior musings of a modern dancer? Ever gone to a show and discovered you might just be it?
If you answer “no” to any of these, well step right up, walk this way.
Fisticuffs creator and star Sven Hopla makes an art of creating an illusion and then breaking it – which he does throughout.
Notions of masculinity are raised, explored, questioned, subverted. The relationship between performer and audience are teased out and upended too.
Audience participation, education and manipulation are all used to make us partners in Hopla’s creative vision, which is at once jarring and unifying.
Any rigid expectations you may have of circus theatre are kicked to the kerb early. There are costume changes, discipline changes, personality changes, mood changes. Roll with it and you will be rewarded.
Hopla’s extensive training in circus, dance and theatre is evident. He is a skilled artist endowed with a sharp and inventive mind. He can perplex and provoke at no cost to sheer entertainment.
Something potentially chaotic is brought together by the thoughtful, warm and funny character of the artist. In a way the show is about stripping away the barriers between us and him, so that we might learn something real about him and maybe ourselves.
An energetic ending ensures the audience leaves feeing uplifted, connected in a way, smiling, and a little bewildered.
Don’t worry if you’re not up for the invitation to think.
Fisticuffs works and rewards on different levels, and it is hard to imagine anyone leaving unhappy with the experience.