À Ố Làng Phố is bringing a slice Vietnamese culture and circus to the Arts Centre stage for three nights only. Running as part of the Asia TOPA Performing Arts festival, the show is billed as ‘bamboo circus.’ (If you’re not sure what that means, don’t worry — you’re not alone. The show’s creators are credited with pioneering the art form and introducing it to the world.) Essentially, bamboo forms the backbone of the entire performance. The athletic, enthusiastic ensemble uses bamboo baskets, poles, and disks to build the set and props on which they perform. The versatile material creates images of everyday life in Vietnam, ranging from fishing boats to a busy streetscape. À Ố Làng Phố translates to ‘from village to city’ and follows the performers on a journey from rural to urban life. Traditional Vietnamese farmers and fishermen will recognize the rattan ware as common tools used in daily life. However, clever choreography and beautiful acrobatics invite viewers see the familiar material with fresh eyes, as baskets become springboards and poles form a multistory factory. The tricks are performed with such ease and skill, they almost appear deceptively simple. The stunts aren’t extreme daredevil tricks, but they are beautifully executed. Every aspect of the production compliments the performance as a whole. The lighting design heightens visual images and modern dance choreography weaves together the individual scenes. Set to a live score, the soundtrack combines traditional music and instruments with a modern soundscape. Traditional songs, city sounds, and a hip-hop battle all have their place.
À Ố Làng Phố is unlikely to challenge visitors with new views of Vietnam, but the show is certainly charming. I highly recommend it for circus devotees; it brings a fresh interpretation to a familiar art form. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, À Ố Làng Phố is a delight.
Jenny S. is an event adventurer. When she’s not attending live shows, you can find her sampling the latest craft beer or sipping a creative cocktail.
À Ố Làng Phốruns 27 – 29 February (70 mins) at Arts Centre Melbourne. Buy tickets now.
The venue is accessible.