Underbelly, Bristo Square

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Mary Brennan

I SUPPOSE you could say Charlie Wheeler is the ring-master in this three-man circus troupe - well, he is master of one ring: the Cyr Wheel, a huge metal hoop that twirls, spins and rolls around the space while he is balancing inside the rim.

Actually, nobody gets to be the guy who cracks the whip - not that there is a whip, either. There is, however, some alpha-male competitiveness and sneaky power-shifts that could tough up aggressively if the dudes were not so kinda nice, verging on cute. Hanging loose, negotiating the male-bonded camaraderie that has the same goofy audience appeal as whiskers on kittens, or meerkats with Russian accents.

The acrobatic Bromance between Wheeler, Beren D'Amico (smallest of the three) and Louis Gift (the tallest) begins with a handshake - but before you can say howdy-do-di, one partner has hauled the other off his feet and into shoulder-high balances or twisty back-flips. Ooohs and aaahs, as the lads get their tricks out for the girls.

Larkiness established, the trio push further with the difficulty ratings, not just in terms of circus tumbling, but in the degrees of friendly physicality - beyond a handshake - that are acceptable between men.

It is an interesting, novel through-line that supports comedy, rivalry and echoes of playground isolation when no-one wants the geeky kid on their team.

But while Bromance is an enjoyable first showing from the threesome - aka the Barely Methodical Troupe - there is still work to be done on how this band of brothers theme can be better orchestrated - and firmed up - within the evolving circus stuff where, as with all inter-dependent relationships, trust and risk are of the essence.

Ends August 25