Picture yourself slowly walking from the sunny shores of Venice Beach and descending slowly beneath the breaking waves, into the world where scuba divers DJ and the circus ringmaster oddly resembles a tubby bearded walrus. This and other fishy characters, based on elements of the ocean, make up the world of PESCADO.
It is hard to believe these chiseled, eight pack-wielding, and highly professional athletes are considered second year students. That’s right: You can study at the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) and graduate with a Bachelor of Circus Arts. These talented acrobatic students go on to perform at some of the world’s top circuses. After such a stunning performance it’s easy to see why.
The show is a circus and cabaret fusion, mixing old time vaudeville tongue-in-cheek humour with a healthy dose of dazzle and spectacle. This is an entertainment extravaganza. Twenty multi-talented artists perform a variety of circus skills including acrobatics, clowning, tight rope walking (and cycling), aerial straps, and trapeze — amongst other skills that before witnessing them for ourselves we don’t even know the name of.
While all acts were impressive, our highlights included the two performers on the Roué Cyr, where the acrobat stands inside what appears to be a giant hula-hoop and spins around. When both men got into the large hoop and began spinning in unison the audience went mad. The live beatboxing from the walrus ringmaster rounded this act off perfectly. We also loved the ‘Prawns’ – three backing vocalists acrobats channeling The Supremes, hilariously performing on the trapeze at the same time. The addition of a live band and on-stage DJ really added to the theatre experience, as did the exceptional stage design and lighting.
Co-directed by Australian cabaret and circus power couple Hayden Spencer and Carita Farrer-Spencer, PESCADO is fun, exciting, and far beyond what you would expect from a university performance. We never had a dull moment during the 70-minute show and left with a sense of wonder at what well-trained and highly talented performers can do.
Tomas is a filmmaker, writer, coffee addict and tall person who does not play basketball. You can follow him @TomasZagoda.