EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: KNOT, Assembly Roxy
Knot, from circus artists Nikki and JD, began life as a 20-minute performance piece in 2016, growing over the past three years into this internationally acclaimed show. Knot explores intimacy in relationships - not just romantic - with focus on fears, insecurities, annoyance and arguments.
Nikki and JD explore their relationship to each other, as well as their relationships outside of each other, through show-stopping and emotional acrobatics and dance. Their routines are both pared back from much of the large-scale circus that is so well represented on the Fringe and still gasp-inducing. In one routine where the two argue, music is paused to make way for the slapping of skin against skin, offering up real, physical emotion.
The success of this show is in the openness of the two performers - both with each other and with the audience. Circus requires immense trust and Nikki and JD lay it all out, interspersing their routines with monologues delivered about their lives. Here, there is humour, sadness, frustration and above all love in all its messiness. We learn how they met, hear excuses given for missed dates, what they love about each other and what they don't.
Nikki climbs JD's body with the ease of scaling a ladder. He drops and catches her from increasing heights, swings her body easily above his head. Later, they reverse roles, subverting gender traditions and expectations of typically male and typically female strength.
Though each insists they can live without the other, showing to different extents the tricks they can perform alone, it is clear their partnership is eternal. Onstage, for as long as they can lift each other. Offstage, this is a friendship that will last.
During the fringe, Knot won both a Total Theatre award and a Herald Angel. It is easy to see why. Catch the show on tour next spring.