Now celebrating its 40th year, Circus Oz is looking slicker and more polished than ever. Its trademark combination of high energy entertainment combined with political commentary remains intact, but this latest production features a glamorous neon-bordered setting, spiffy new costumes by Laurel Frank, and some remarkable oversized props that create a sense of spatial disorientation while providing a whole new range of possibilities as circus apparatus.
The performance began with the cast posed as shop-store dummies before exploding into a fast-moving tumbling routine, so quick that it was hard to know where to look. Lachlan Sukroo and Jake Silvestro, both former Canberrans, performed remarkable manoeuvres on an enormous safety pin doubling as a pair of Chinese poles. Indeed there was a good deal more of Mr. Sukroo on display than expected as he scampered around the stage looking for his errant costume, sending the kids in the audience into paroxysms.
Giant clothes pegs became springboards for the acrobats, huge model credit cards were stacked on each other to provide a precarious tower for tattooed daredevil, Mitch Jones, Tara Silcock balanced giant sized cocktail umbrellas in a huge martini glass, and Rose Chalker McGann performed a graceful silks (tissue) act before returning to sing a wry song about tolerance and diversity but Not in My Backyard.
More chaos for the kids when a cheeky sheepdog tried its best to herd a flock of unco-operative jumbucks through the auditorium, before joining a jolly ‘snagman’ at a barbecue to sing some rousing verses of Worship My Webber to a tune which sounded remarkably like Waltzing Matilda.
Live music, created onstage by Ania Reynolds and Jeremy Hopkins, accompanied an endless stream of heart-stopping feats. Among them, a brave girl narrowly avoiding knives thrown at her refrigerator, an acrobat performing with huge steam irons on his feet, another juggling Redhead Matchboxes, and a pretty girl who balanced on revolving sticks. The final scene involved the whole cast performing all sorts of tricks hanging from a rope ladder suspended high above the stage.
It may be 40 years old, and a bit more sophisticated, but Circus Oz still retains the unique vitality, energy and originality that have made it famous the world over.
Circus Oz: Model Citizens
Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Friday 17 August 2018 – 7.30pm
Season: 16 – 18 August 2018
Model Citizens will also be presented at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre, Nowra (24 – 25 August); Glasshouse, Port Macquarie (29 August); Capitol Theatre, Tamworth (1 – 2 September); Dubbo Regional Theatre and Convention Centre (5 September); Orange Civic Theatre (15 September); Manning Entertainment Centre, Taree (21 September); and Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong (28 – 29 September). For more information, visit: www.circusoz.com for details.
Image: Circus Oz presents Model Citizens – photo by Rob Blackburn
Review: Bill Stephens OAM