Railed review by Jessica Taurins


‘Railed’ is an extremely cheeky (of all three kinds, of course) circus act by the Melbourne-based Head First Acrobats, an ensemble group of entertainers slash circus performers slash high-flipping acrobats. For this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, Railed is hosted in the Melbourne Spiegeltent – conveniently located behind Fed Square in this case, although it is a travelling big top – with a bar out front, which was positively brimming with cowboy-hatted girls and flashy-suited boys.

While it is an extremely risque performance – that is, no kids should be allowed – there is something in Railed for everyone. Whether you like the cheekiness in the humour, the handsomeness of the performers’ ecstatic faces, or the hints of bottom that peek out of their sinfully short shorts by the end of the show, there’s always something to look forward to. Plus, if the shirtlessness doesn’t pull you in (if, perhaps, you weren’t part of the already-drunk fifteen-woman strong hen’s party that showed up on opening night), they are absolutely spectacular in their separate acrobatic crafts.

Railed is an ensemble performance, directed by performers Harley Timmermans, Adam McMahon, and Cal Harris, with Anthony Joseph Saltalamacchia (AJ) rounding out the foursome. The performance starts out simply enough, a slightly-drunk crowd, a saloon door at the back of the stage, and the show name in corrugated steel letters – reminding us that we’re about to receive an experience of a lifetime.

The story is thin – it’s a cabaret, not fine theatre – but the western theme pulls the show together extremely well. The four performers are bandits on the run, tossing money into the crowd and putting the moves on the audience with sultry eyes and hilariously poorly-performed card tricks, a running theme that delights in random moments throughout the show.

The only breaks in wonder are when poor AJ, the runt of the bandit crew, drinks himself into oblivion and vomits onto the stage – in character, of course, although it is still good for a laugh – otherwise Railed is non-stop action. The strengths of each performer are varied and positively astounding, it is really impossible to imagine what kind of preparation must go into learning each of these tricks.

Sure, some acts seem easy. Bottle juggling, anyone can do that! Hat flipping, whatever, I’ve seen it from a clown on the street. (Look, I can’t lie, that’s all sarcasm. I am truly beyond impressed at every moment of their performance, but compared to some of the later acts… let’s just say that juggling is not the most impressive moment of the evening.) But then we see Harris climb atop a stack of chairs at least ten-feet tall and do a handstand. Timmermans spins within a Cyr wheel (an enormous metal hoop), managing to not roll over his fingers once as he defies gravity within it. And McMahon, well, I’m fairly sure he does a number of fantastic tricks from behind a hysterically themed mask.

For those who are worried, there’s no nudity. Of the human kind, at least. There’s shirtlessness and a cheeky peek, as mentioned, but it’s nothing you couldn’t take your grandma to if she was desperate to catch a glimpse of some extremely talented men. Them being handsome as well is really just icing on top of a big sweaty beefcake, and they’re available for photos out front after the show as well, if grandma really wants to touch the cakes that are on display.

Photographer: John Goodridge

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