Melbourne Fringe: The Flying Xamels – ‘4+4=4’

As above, so below.

The delightful whimsy and otherworldy magic which circus is famous for is well on display in The Flying Xamels’  show ‘4+4=4‘. The performance is situated in Upswing Arts’ cute circus precinct and bar, Emerald City’s Gingerbread House. Four NICA-trained artists, from a range of countries spanning the world, connect and reveal meditations on their lives across a storybook space of the imagination.

Presented upon a metal rig that fits snugly arched under the timbered heritage roof of the former wholesale meat market, deft rope work and vivid storytelling through acrobatic and circus skills, tells of everyday lives and romantic dreams common to all people living in the bustling global marketplace of the 21st century. The set is like a giant storybook and each performer a character in a big picture of life.

The stage is a surreal or dream landscape where random associations, as in life, present moments of ephemeral beauty.  Cast members showcase their technical skills one at a time, in solo story vignettes to atmospheric low-fi versions of popular music. On ropes, aboard skateboards, hanging from the rigging, and rolling through a field of paper flowers, these characters explore their alter egos.

An artist creates live sketches at the back of the stage. With an assistant camel up top, these four cast members perform as an ensemble. The works are a meditation on lives lived between everyday working hours, sleep, and the desire to perform your art.

Romantic sequences are shot through with moments of slapstick absurdism. One offstage acrobat can’t stop dropping from overhead, bounding across the stage and jumping full-bodied through the artists’ canvas! The project itself, and stage, are a playground in which these skilled practitioners can work together and continue exploring art through performance.

Small moments delight, such as the diagonal sequence of lovers crossing the stage tied together on skateboards. The randomness of human life and associations is presented. Use of levels helps in the storytelling and underscores key meanings. They bring a range of cultural backgrounds, from Brazil, Vietnam, China, country Australia, and France.

You will find your own personal moments of delight in the multi-tiered and open space of this performance. It may be the magic of spinning endlessly on high- hanging ropes, or the ability of one acrobat to climb up on a high structure and play creatively, as we might like to play freely on the serious structures that we embed into our lives.

The fit, able bodies and well-honed physical theatre skill of this troupe call you down to dream and imagine, and grasp a moment of magical bliss through the telling of their stories.

– Sarah
Sarah W. is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On-the-street or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope!

The season of this 50minute show runs at Emerald City’s Gingerbread House, Meat Market, 20- 25 September, 9:45pm Tues- Saturday, Sunday 8:45pm. Book here. This venue is wheelchair accessible.

For more Melbourne Fringe 2016, check out our guide and all our reviews.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Upswing Arts and Melbourne Fringe.
Image credit: Melbourne Fringe.