By Jessica Taurins
Casus Circus – the creators behind You & I – have diversity and inclusion at the forefront of their company; they want to tell stories that are ignored or heavily stereotyped instead of sticking to traditional notions of storytelling and circus performance.
You & I is no different. It’s the (powerfully intimate and thrillingly joyful) story of two men in a yurt in the NSW rainforest, trapped indoors as it starts to rain. It opens with floor performances, as they gently touch and nudge each other into different poses, spinning around one another with ease. Performers Jesse Scott and Lachlan Macaulay have an easy grace with one another and move in complete sync – surely helped along by the fact that they are also partners outside of the show.
Each scene, regardless of its performative content, is riddled with signs of joyous love. Too often stories of non-heterosexual love are painful or tragic, but You & I is a powerful and consistent celebration of two people who adore, protect, and devote themselves to each other above all else.
It’s clear that Scott and Macaulay have complete emotional confidence in each other, even putting aside the physical strength required for many of the circus acts they include. The opening scene, as well as many others that are performed more as a partnered dance than a circus act, betrays their deep, fundamental knowledge of each other’s movements and brings a huge beauty and energy to the stage.
The circus acts, however, are where this show shines. If You & I has done anything right (and it has done many things right) it uses its slow, dreamy opening to set up the necessary trust and intimacy for the feats of strength and skill later in the performance. Macaulay poses on handstand blocks then flawlessly steps onto Scott’s shoulders, switching smoothly between the poles and his partner. There are numerous examples of floor acrobatics between the two performers where they roll and toss each other equally as often (regardless of the visual size difference, it’s evident that Scott and Macaulay are equal in skill), sometimes not even looking before one catches the other.
Between the more intense acts there are moments for fun – a costume scene has the audience roaring with laughter as the performers switch from sparkling dresses to leather straps to sailor outfits. It’s so easy to see how much Scott and Macaulay enjoy this as well, making the small theatre seem even smaller and more intimate, as though the audience really are privy to this private moment between the two men.
The finale, not to be spoiled, involves a rope swing and a pair of special handcuffs (don’t be gutter-minded!), made to twist in the centre. The trust and sheer skill that goes into the final duo act is mind-blowing, as evidenced by the number of oohs, aahs, and sharp gasps coming from the audience. Scott and Macaulay should be beyond proud of the performance they choreographed in You & I, both in terms of the sheer beauty of the romance, and the technical brilliance of the acts they included.
For those looking to see something special this Midsumma, You & I is a fantastic blend of circus and personal connection, and is well worth the trip out to the Gasworks Theatre.
Images: Katie Bennett