Phat Cab Club Review by Ash Cottrell

****.5 stars

What a wonderfully wacky world Phat Cab Club created for Melbourne at their show at the Melba Spiegeltent in Collingwood for Fringe. Not to take anything away from this talented group of people, but a venue does a lot to enhance a night out at the theatre and in this case, it was pretty glorious real estate. The Melba Spiegeltent nests itself in close proximity to the Melbourne institution that is Jim’s Greek Tavern, perfect for a pre-show or a post-show feast. Johnston Street is always a vibrant place for cutting edge content.

Come Spring, the Melbourne Fringe Festival is in full swing and I’m pleased to say that this is the best show I’ve seen thus far. Circus is always a spectacle for me, I’m in awe of the physicality of the performers and revel in the joyous realisation of the lighting and costume design. With respect to these departments, Phat Cab Club certainly pulled out all the stops. In short, the energy was infectious, the talent undeniable and the approach youthful, bold and exuberant. Add to that, Phat Cab Club had an audience full of support, which in this case, took the form of enthusiastic, trendy twenty-somethings.

What was clear was that the performers were attempting a bold and rambunctious approach to the genre. I particularly liked the almost exclusive incorporation of contemporary hip hop to accompany the acts, although I can imagine if you didn’t have a penchant for it, it would, for want of a better way to express this, do your head in. The likes of Nicky Minaj, Run the Jewels and Leikeli47 (to name just a few) permeated the confines of The Melba Spiegeltent and bolstered the provocative performance prowess of this group of artists.

I hate to play favourites, but in this case, I will. I was dazzled by the rope performance of Emily Chilvers. Her presence was captivating and managed to encapsulate an inherent sexual energy that was glorious to watch. I am truly amazed by the overwhelming talent of circus artists and wonder where in the world they are. Do they walk the streets like normal people? Or do they inhabit a different corner of the globe? Their talent is so foreign to me that I struggle to comprehend that they inhabit the human body. In short, Chilvers was spectacular to watch, as was the energy and stage presence of Anna Fisher who performed with proficiency and provocation, the sparkling gold hula-hoops. I must confess that I am like a bowerbird in an audience and am very much drawn to anything that glitters.

The stage presence, infused humour and precision of all of the performers was excellent though and the show incorporated a wonderful variety of acts from the other artists not previously mentioned, Antonia Sassine, Jordan Twartz, Mark Longo, Odette Robbins, Joe Fisher and Rhys Davis. There wasn’t an act or a moment where I was disengaged and my only criticism was the inclusion of an interval. I often find these cumbersome and unnecessary and in this case, save for my opportunity to sneak to the bar, I found it an unusual choice, considering the length of the show.

My only regret is that I couldn’t stay for the wonderful after-party that the Phat Cab Club promised, hosted post curtain call in the tent.  Fit with a dj, cheap drinks and the exuberant crowd the show attracted, I can safely say that I think it would have been a ‘banga’. Just trying out some urban dictionary words there, to keep it contemporary, like this wonderful show that runs until the 28th of this month.

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