Luminosa: Jacksons Lane Theatre Highgate

(c) Alex Brenner

Holly Downey, Tasha Rushbrooke, Danielle Summers, Luminosa at Jacksons Lane. - Credit: Credit Alex Brenner

The first show to grace the stage at Jacksons Lane for more than 18 months opens with a lighted candle.

Co-directed by artistic director Adrian Berry and Lost in Translation's Massimiliano Rossetti, Luminosa's message is to 'open your eyes and let the light flood in' after months in darkness.

The scaffolding and wrappings are still on the Highgate arts centre as the £4.5 million revamp reaches its final stages. Due to open in early November this was a chance to welcome back audiences, albeit down a makeshift corridor, with an upbeat celebration of thrilling live performance to remind us what we've missed.

(c) Alex Brenner

Lawrence Swaddle and Tasha Rushbrooke, Luminosa at Jacksons Lane. - Credit: Alex Brenner

Set to Peter Reynold's off-beat music, it's an atmospheric blend of clowning, cabaret, impressive aerial work and acrobatics.

Tasha Rushbrooke is a lithe and charismatic acrobat, hand balancing on upright poles while manipulating a ball. Zaki Musa brings a powerful drag aesthetic to an aerial pole dance in which he fabulously anchors himself by a single patent leather stiletto boot. And Tilly Mae makes an expressive, charming clown, while Rosetti himself proves a powerhouse as a kind of human trapeze for Roisin Morris' gravity defying flips.

The former church has been shuttered since November 2020 while the foyer, seating, rehearsal spaces and disabled access are upgraded. The re-opening season also includes a Nordic theatre festival, and the London Premiere of Circolombia’s Ves-Tigios, featuring extravagant visions, dizzying acrobatics and extraordinary circus skills.

(c) Alex Brenner

Holly Downey Luminosa at Jacksons Lane - Credit: Alex Brenner

Hangwire Showcase is a mixed bill from seven circus artists and companies awarded new commissions by Jacksons Lane incorporating elements of hip-hop, puppetry, and dance. And Brain Fools’ Lucky Pigeons - the first showing from a young Jacksons Lane-supported company - is a mix of absurd theatre, acrobatics, and funny stories. Meanwhile Laura Murphy's Contra, is a solo-cabaret interrogating personal, social and historical occupations of the female body.

Most Read

Family shows include Mad Etiquette’s Captain Cauliflower, Marvin the Mischievous Moose, and A Circus Carol, Lost in Translation's acrobatic version of Charles Dickens’ festive tale.

Berry said: "We decided rather than wait for the entire building to be finished we'd let audiences in for a sneak peek. It's going to be gorgeous. Our building has been knackered for so long and it now looks beautiful. We have two new circus creation studios, a foyer about three times the size of before, and a garden terrace at the front for people to hang out and have a drink so we have much more visibility on the street front."

Berry adds of the future: "I feel as optimistic as I can be. I think people's confidence is returning, but I am not confident about the world and am mentally prepared for them to close theatres again this winter."

Luminosa runs until September 29. 4/5 stars.