Take three dudes; a plethora of humor; a bunch of acrobatic, circus, and parkour skills and mix it up in all of the awkwardness and awesomeness that is platonic male affection and you’ve got Bromance, the latest show to grace the stage of Times Square’s New Victory Theater.
The show starts with Beren D’Amico, Louis Gift, and Charlie Wheeller of Britain’s Barely Methodical Troupe emerging on a sparse, black stage, one by one. Each is dressed in the most basic of khaki pants and maroon tees, giving off the vibe that they could pretty much be any group of guys you know. (And that’s very much the point and part of the appeal.) D’Amico is the small and cheeky one; Gift is the big but gentle giant; and sweet Wheeller is the forever hopeful third wheel. There’s a lot of awkward handshaking and equally awkward silences and talk-over-each-other moments as the trio attempts to navigate how to introduce and express themselves to one another. Eventually, their limbs become intertwined into knots and they decide that sniffing each other’s armpits is their preferred greeting. Once the kid-laughter settles, the circus of athleticism really begins.
The threesome displays numerous impressive physical feats throughout the 50-minute performance. (No wonder: They all studied at the National Centre for Circus Arts in London, and the show won the 2013 Circus Maximus Award and the 2014 Total Theater and Jackson’s Lane Award for Circus at the Edinburgh Festival.) There’s a three-man shoulder-on-shoulder tower; lots of tosses and catches; trust falls; one-handed handstands; and break dancing. But the for-sure highlight of the show is Wheeller’s spin on the Cyr wheel, where he relies on momentum to keep himself moving in a giant steel Hula-Hoop. At times, it appears as though he’s floating in air, making this nail-biting, dangerous act look beautiful and effortless.
All of this physicality is how the three compete for each other’s attention. But then, alas, they break apart quickly when they accidentally touch. D’Amico, Gift, and Wheeller spend the entire show wanting to connect, but stumble due to embarrassment. They revert to standoffishness or more socially acceptable, brolike physical interactions, like roughhousing, high-fives, and fist bumps. Also, butt jokes. Young audience members eat up all the physical comedy, naturally.
Speaking of kids, while the award-winning Bromance is performed at the family-focused New Victory Theater, your child might not fully grasp the overarching theme that male friendships—and the affection expressed or avoided between men—are complicated. Some of the humor may sail right over their heads, as well. For instance, the three do an impressive machismo-filled dance to Tone Loc’s late-’80s hit “Wild Thing.” (Yes, the “I need $50 to make you holler / I get paid to do the wild thing” “Wild Thing.”) And another interlude features the three lined up, rears to the audience as if at a urinal, sneaking peeks at one another. The joke: They turn to reveal that they’ve each made an origami swan of comically different sizes. Whether kids are in on some of the jokes (and themes) or not, they’ll still marvel at the athleticism and giggle at the boyish humor that peppers the performance.
A big part of Bromance’s appeal is that the trio’s hand-to-hand and body-to-body moves, while always athletic and impressive, aren’t always slick and graceful. It’s refreshing to watch the seemingly everyman sweat and pant and land hard. And it’s utterly charming when any of the three complete a daring act and look to the audience with an impish smile, begging for the crowd’s approval. In short, Bromance makes this type of stage work accessible and relatable to all audiences.
Why You Should Go: Bromance fuses old-school acrobatics with contemporary dance, giving the circus a fresh, new perspective. All three performers bring years of training to the stage, each an expert in a particular art form, all of which is synthesized into a show that’s both playful and poignant.
New Victory Theater
209 West 42nd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Times Square
Through Sunday, February 25
Don’t jump through (or roll around in) hoops to see Bromance. Our experience advisers can reserve your seats!