Uncovered combines steamy circus with raunchy, unrestrained cabaret, to create an evening of boozy laughs well fitted to the Midsumma Festival. Five uniquely talented circus artists explore sexuality through a vast array of enthralling physical challenges that leave the audience in awe.
Emily Gare is the stunning Maître D’ who continuously impresses with her range of physical ability. The twinky Mark Graham is a charming and cheeky versatile performer. Dave Coombs is both director and performer, his solo proving he certainly is a true ringmaster. Alex Jean is a highflying pocket rocket with impressive control, and Shannon Vitali is the gorgeous “straight” stand-in who we follow on his journey of sexual awakening. His strength and flipping ability is outstanding.
Gasworks is transformed into a smoky, underground cabaret venue with VIP tables for the adventurous. The lighting design is effective and creates a sensual mood from the outset, however little is done to create visual dynamics that match the energy of the performers. The set is simple but allows the performers to fill the space and create interesting shapes and levels. Coombs direction and stage management is at times clumsy, with an unnecessary break in the flow of the piece to ensure that the wine and water used for a steamy scene creates no hazard for the performers.
Targeted at gay men, my main qualm with this show was the way in which sex was explored. Promoted as a journey down a difficult path to self-liberation a coherent story line isn’t present. Fragmented vignettes of high-energy circus tricks filled with sexuality make up a very enjoyable evening of entertainment, but I left wanting more. At times the ‘sex’ factor felt forced and uncomfortable. There were, however, many beautiful moments where sexuality was given meaning through the art of circus. These moments allowed the artists and their bodies to speak sex in an organic way that was infectious to watch. Unfortunately the filler dialogue and strained overtly sexual encounters exploited sex as a theme rather than celebrated it. Uncovered presented two approaches to sex within the gay community; the Grindr addicted, physical attraction fuelled stereotype, alongside a poignant celebration of sex as human connection. Some clarity is needed in the presentation to understand exactly which aspect of the gay community we should celebrate.
Uncovered has moments that are the absolute essence of sex, where these five extraordinary artists flirt with each other, the audience and danger, however there were times when the sexual energy was forced and rather uncomfortable. Circus is a wonderful medium to explore the human body and our sexual desires and the audience is treated to a gorgeous array of physical feats that inspires a more open approach to sexuality. Uncovered is an enjoyable evening of theatre and a fantastic addition to this Midsumma Festival.