The Unbelievables comes to Australian stages courtesy of the producers and director behind The Illusionists and Circus 1903, both of which have toured more than 350 cities in 35 countries. Kicking off its national tour in Sydney before moving to Melbourne and Perth, The Unbelievables’ aim is to deliver audiences an “over-the-top entertainment extravaganza” by bringing together the finest talent in a variety of genres and skillsets right across the world. The cast includes a Tony Award-winning ventriloquist, a juggler, magicians and ballroom dancers. But while parts of the resulting production greatly impress, others don’t rise to quite the same stratospheric standards.
At the top of proceedings, Sos and Victoria Petrosyan – ‘The Transformationalists’ – reveal their unusual talent, which has seen them become four-time Guinness World Record winners. Each of the two changes completely from one outfit to the next in the blink of an eye, and it’s a solid start to the night.
Later on, Russian husband-and-wife duo Alfredo and Anna Silva present ‘Deadly games’, a knife-throwing routine that appropriately escalates in complexity and danger, and has some audience members covering their eyes. The two were semi-finalists on America’s Got Talent in 2016, and it’s quickly apparent they’re genuine experts in their field.
Capping off the first half of the show is ‘Dupla Mão na Roda’, a hand balance act performed by Alan Pagnota and Rafael Ferreira. Ferreira’s congenital arthrogryposis has meant he’s been wheelchair-bound all of his life. However, his astonishing muscle control has allowed him to become a gifted circus artist, and his act here with Pagnota certainly leaves a lasting impression.
When it comes to singling out highlights, it’s two solo artists that rise above the pack. Brett Loudermilk is acknowledged as the top sword swallower in the world, and his perilous routine is a sight to be seen, but it’s further elevated by his wit, which affords us the best laugh-out-loud comedy of the evening. His strong engagement of the audience is terrific.
Sand artist Julia Kurkina provides another of The Unbelievables’ top acts. A world-renowned sand drawer, Kurkina creates gorgeously detailed artworks using only her fingers and grains of sand. Perhaps because of the fact it’s an art form we’re not used to seeing incorporated into this type of spectacle, it’s one of the show’s most compelling performances and actually leaves you wanting more. There is something magical about what Kurkina accomplishes.
All of the action in The Unbelievables is accompanied by live music delivered by a great band, led by musical director Matt Cusson, who also provides some of the lead vocals. Elsewhere, American singer/songwriter Emi Secrest lends her soulful tones to pop classics, including Carole King’s ‘Natural woman’. Emcee for the evening is American comedian Harrison Greenbaum, whose energy and stage presence make him a good man for the job (even if his comedy doesn’t always hit the mark).
The Unbelievables undeniably showcases the remarkable talents of a wide range of artists and offers an evening of pure entertainment. But in an age in which Australian audiences have access to a number of circus and variety shows, much of what is on offer is similar to what’s been seen on stages here before. Perhaps a fresher take on well-known circus acts and even the fusion of different genres is what’s needed to truly impress and surprise today with this type of show.
That said, The Unbelievables represents a fun night out for the family this summer.
THE UNBELIEVABLES – SEASON DETAILS
WHEN: Playing now until 29 December 2017
WHERE: Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House
TICKETS: Tickets from $64.90 + booking fee at sydneyoperahouse.com or by phone on (02) 9250 7777
WHEN: 3 – 13 January 2018
WHERE: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
TICKETS: Tickets from $39.00 + booking fee at artscentremelbourne.com.au or by phone on 1300 182 183
WHEN: 18 – 28 January 2018
WHERE: Crown Theatre Perth
TICKETS: Tickets from $66.22 + booking fee at ticketmaster.com.au or by phone on 136 100