The pace of modern life can often get a bit frantic and in “Runners” Cirk La Putyka, a contemporary circus company from Prague, mount a visually stunning metaphor for its unrelenting pressures.

The action takes place on and around a specially designed 10-metre long moving platform, initially covered by a tent-like canvas behind which figures are silhouetted in the dusky light, that serves as a giant human treadmill. As it moves one way, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, four performers run, cavort, collide, writhe around, somersault, ride a bike, spin various-sized balls and perform cyr-wheel acrobatics the other way, with a skill and athleticism that is breathtaking.

Sometimes they are in perfect harmony with one another and the treadmill; at other times they push past one another and scuffle as they seek to thrive or, as it speeds up, simply to survive. 

Periodically they break off to relate a memory or a revealing snippet of their daily life from a microphone stand at the front of the stage – such as how one of their daughters goes to her grandma, opens her closet and tries on a dress, just as she did as a girl – before returning to brush their teeth, put on lipstick or read (recumbent for a second or two) as best they can on the remorseless treadmill.

The Czech trio of Aneta Bockova, Viktor Cernicky and Dora Sulzenko, along with the multi-tattooed circus-trained Ethan Law from Utah, in the United States, give luminescent performances.

Their exertions are accompanied by an eerily atmospheric live music set, composed and performed by Terezie Kovalova on cello and Jan Ctvrtnik on the electronic piano, bass drums and guitar, both of whom sing sometimes wordless original numbers. Slickly directed by Rostislav Novak, founder and artistic director of the company, it’s wildly inventive, by turns balletic and whimsical, and unremittingly entertaining with a blistering conclusion. 

Tickets here.

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