An explosive, colourful night out, Circus Oz’s latest offering, Twenty Sixteen is a highly energised, breath taking, percussive show full of whimsy and humour for all ages.

For a cold winter’s night, the atmosphere in the tent is hot and electric, for physics defying performances from an incredibly talented group. The Circus Oz performers are part athlete, part musician, part tumbler, part comedians, part dancers and every part the entertainer- from their musical entrance and roles rotating through different instruments across the evening, to flying across the stage on a trapeze or on someone’s shoulders, and so much more, these are multi talented, strong performers on all levels. They are also true athletes; strong, fit and capable of enduring a lot in each stunt.

Flip Kammerer is an absolute show stealer as the ridiculous, feisty Infinity Lovebeads, the perfect piss take on alternative medicine and the healing, clean eating and psychic movements.  Her humour bounces from racy and sexual jokes, slapstick humour of being clumsy and a fraudulent psychic and healer, to spouting the wisdom of kale, yoga, activated almonds and other on trend health fads. Her role in breaking up the anxiety of watching mind blowing circus stunts allows for the audience to have a laugh, the sets and scenes to be changed over, and provides a fresh and funny look at how the ‘magic’ of circus and performing works.

The entire ensemble was delightful, from the grunge trapeze to a clothes swap stunt, breath taking tumbling and the witty banter and commentaries between each section, these performers are unbelievable.

Another incredible aspect is the way the music is created, and the cues the band and musical director Ania Reynolds takes from the performers, to ensure the impact of the act and the beat of the music sync up perfectly. Cast members bounce in and out of the band, accompanied by strong percussion and synthesisers that can create a wide variety of settings and moods for each skit.

The set, for a circus stage, is very versatile, with cast members seamlessly entering and exiting tidying the stage, picking up matts and transitioning smoothly to the next act. The scaffolding style cage over the stage allows for great levels, and the element of surprise- props dropped, cast members tumbling down and even a climbing trumpeters hanging upside down from the top of the set.

There’s a strong sense of family that comes from the Circus Oz team- every member of their team on stage and off has each other’s back and supports each other as second nature. From the trust they have in falling and catching each other, to the strong support and never give up attitude when a trick doesn’t work (or they pretend it doesn’t work). Are their tumbles real, or part of the act? It doesn’t matter, the performers have each other’s back, setting up again with enthusiasm and energy, and it only makes the crowd cheer and clap harder.

The design of the show feels vaudevillian, old school circus charm meets the modern performance- costumes inspired by elements on 1920s and burlesque style, complete with sequins, Lycra and modern tones- the music and the styles of performances match this, from modern “grunge trapeze” to traditional circus tricks, balancing stacks of chairs and juggling, but with the same wickedly funny and fun twist that all Circus Oz performances have- an edge.

It’s thus heartbreaking that these incredible performers, an ecosystem of compassion, community and hope, this community and family organisation is under threat from cuts to the Arts Council funding. This company supports the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, giving back funds they raise at the ends of the shows and donating tickets for new arrivals to view something beautiful. Cutting the arts is like cutting imagination, and it was an emotional message delivered by company members and the director of the ASRC at the end of the gala night performance.  This is also a company that is accepting of Indigenous and LGBTI communities, young and old, and make strong references to this throughout the show and their materials. This progressive company gets better and better with every offering.

You can do your bit to support the arts by going to see this wonderful show.  It’s circus for all ages, but with a little bit of an adult twist- there’s no nudity, but there’s some hints of near nudity, and while the stunts are for the whimsy of all, the jokes are for the big kids who never grew up. It’s complete with unicycles, magic and whimsy and feats of art you will be too spell bound watching to clap at. You can catch this awesome performance under the Heated Big Top on Birrurung Marr until 10 July, before it tours Australia.

 

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