A totally engaging night of high stakes skills and fun-filled entertainment awaits you inside a Big Top at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria for Circus Oz’s premiere show in their 40th anniversary year, Precarious. The show is a commentary on the fragile state of affairs in this world, where nature contends with human management, as well as the precarious state of play of the cast with gravity and their bodies. In a world turned sideways, what way do we walk as a people?
The talented Australian cast of 7, with original live musical accompaniment by sonic whizzes Sophia Exiner and Jeremy Hopkins, leap about the space for the full 70 minutes and linger in your imagination as you leave. It’s an air of madcap anarchy which spells C-I-R-C-U-S! Directed by Artistic Director Rob Tannion with Kate Fryer, the cast are devilish clad in Laurel Frank’s cheeky steampunk attire, and they leap, bound, fall, throw, catch and climb their way about the stage, above the props, up and down ropes, descend from the ceiling, and literally jump start our imagination in this endless parade of physical excellence. It’s an electric way to warm yourself up in the middle of winter.
The pace is on and the entire show flows like a whirling mass before us set inside a retro 1930s-style office interior. The show satirises bureaucratic ineptitude and we get funny moments of bullying, intimidation and team work shown through clowning. It’s great to see this medium take on the absurdity of what we often experience in our working lives. In an age dominated by fiscal measurement and accountability, it’s fun to see this artform take it on and they do it with spunk, verve and humour as only a company as sophisticated and experienced as the 40-year-old Circus Oz is (1978-2018) could serve up. Credited with being a rock ‘n roll circus with Aussie attitude, the company has toured the world over, influencing many, and is famous for its streetwise, liberated style which fearlessly tackles any topic.
You’ll be astounded by the tricks of the cast many of whom are our own local NICA graduates. Lachlan Sukroo’s calm exterior masks his inner clown and he rolls into positions only a cat executes. His smooth expression and flow mesmerise and belie the complex skillset required on some of his acrobatic acts, especially partner work. Kooky Tara Silcock shows her specialities of foot juggling and hula-hooping, as well as good comic acting, and, as usual, Jake Silvestro is as animated as a cartoon character, never ceasing with his fabulous embodied storytelling- he moves about the space quicker than a mouse! Tania Cervantes Chamorro, also dance trained, delivers wows with her amazing aerial slings sequence and elegant finesse.
The way the choreography moves about Michael Baxter’s quicky set is amazing. They climb over wooden boxes and metal parts like toddlers in a nursery, making it all look easy. High up to the roof, sliding down walls, falling, or climbing, this cast thrill every minute of the show and demonstrate a professionalism that belies their years.
Skills on show amidst the clever storyline include ensemble acrobatics, trapeze, Chinese pole, juggling, hoops, handstands, aerial slings, roue cyr, and more. Dylan Singh does a scary bungee trapeze right up front where hanging upside down seems his preferred mode, and wonder-dynamo Jon Bonaventura typically compells with his gymnastic prowess. He truly is Mr Bendy Man, folding himself into tiny shapes like the parts of an envelope, and uses his face for cute comical emphasis. The cast, all elite athletes, also know how to perform- to work a crowd, play a character, engage in imaginative storytelling with each other, and we see the energetic ‘buzz’ that emerges from such skilled group dynamics. Hundreds of hours of hard work along with caring mentorship go into this accomplishment, a template for the company, and the end product is what audiences so love about this special national company.
It’s the perfect CBD show and location for a date, or school holiday activity with early week and weekend matinees. Grab someone who wants to raise their heart rate and enter a realm of possibility. There is a cute pop-up bar, coffee station, and food truck. There are Auslan delivered dates. Grab a copy of their special 40th anniversary Programme which includes an illustrated history, or a spare pair of juggling balls for your life outside. The energy is infectious.
Sarah Wallace is a dance-qualified Theatre Specialist with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance. On the street, or in the box seat, she looks for quality works that push the envelope.
Precarious shows 26 June – 15 July, 1:30pm Wednesday – Saturday, 12:30pm Sunday, 5:30/6.30/7pm Wednesday – Sunday (70 mins, no interval) under The Big Top at The Melbourne Botanic Gardens. Book tickets here. The show is accessible. Auslan versions 7 and 14 July.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were guests of Starling Communications.
Images: Rob Blackburn.