Raven @ Assembly Roxy
A candid but thrilling show that combines confessional vignettes with impressive circus craft
Raven’s three performers open the show demonstrating their superb acrobatic abilities one after the other. Under moody lighting and with melancholic electronic accompaniment, there's only a beaten-up sofa onstage to hint beyond the writhing aerial spectacle and acts of acute contortion going on. Watching these technical, clinical feats, you wonder if you might be left following this piece – about the strains and challenges of modern motherhood – entirely through the dense, abstract language of acrobatic dance.
Suddenly, though, the show opens up in its character, and the audience are introduced to Romy, Lena and Anke. They reveal their stories, warmth and humour through a series of voiceovers, comic dances and circus craft, meditating on their experiences of self-doubt trying to balance their identities as both mothers and performers. Exploring the struggles they’ve faced since becoming mothers – whether in their careers, with their body-image, or in their sense of performance and competition with other mothers – the three artists move gracefully through creative and witty metaphorical vignettes which, even when slightly on the nose, are always at least funny and entertaining.
Raven manages to evoke an impressive variety of atmospheres throughout, from underground club to sweaty, sleep-starved bedroom. The short pre-recorded monologues can be a little dry and awkward, breaking up what is otherwise a very fluid performance, but they still manage to contribute to the human warmth and vulnerability which lie at the heart of this candid but thrilling show.
Raven, Assembly Roxy (Central), until 26 Aug (not 20), 5.50pm, £13-16