Circa never ceases to surprise. Landscapes with Monsters sets out to tell the story of post-industrial cities in decay. It was developed and premiered in Wollongong. The show is performed by an ensemble cast of seven brilliant athletes, three women and four men, in a bleak setting relieved only by projected images of belching furnaces. The costumes are industrial, resembling everyday work clothes. The only props are a collection of multi-sized boxes and a huge metal ladder.
However, far from being dull, these remarkably gifted performers, under the inspired direction of Yaron Lifschitz, transform these mundane objects into a playground for exploration and delight, responding to a dictum, “Don’t do anything the hard way. Find an even harder way to do it”.
They crawl all over each other, hang off slippery boxes by their finger-tips, squeeze their bodies into impossible positions in alarming situations. Arms, legs and backsides pop out from the most unlikely places as they cram each other into a variety of different sized boxes. At one point, all seven scramble for position all struggling to occupy the top of a refrigerator-sized box. The way they resolve this situation and dismount this box has to be seen to be believed.
They throw each other around, balance on each other’s extremities, and do heart-stopping acrobatics on top of a 20 ft. metal ladder. One particularly alarming moment occurs when two of the men balance this ladder precariously right out over the audience.
The level of trust between the performers is extraordinary, and the ingenuity and complexity of the routines, jaw-dropping. There are hints of relationships and rejection, all performed with a cheeky, good-humoured ambiguity. No need to wonder what a girl balancing dangerously on boxes in ballet point shoes has to do with post-industrial cities, just enjoy the originality of the act.
There were no printed programs available for the audience, so you might like to know that the hard-working cast of Landscapes with Monsters were Kathryn O’Keefe, Jessica Connell, Tim Fyffe, Scott Grove, Conor Neall, Seppe Van Looveren and Billie Wilson-Coffey. All of whom stamped their unique, sunny personalities on another amazing Circa creation.
Landscape with Monsters
Playhouse – Canberra Theatre Centre, London Circuit, Canberra
Performance: Wednesday 6 September 2017
Season continues to 9 September 2017
Landscape with Monsters will also be presented at the Orange Civic Centre (14 September), Griffith Regional Theatre (20 September), and the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre (23 September). For more information, visit: www.circa.org.au for details.
Image: Seppe Van Looveren and Timothy Fyffe in Landscape with Monsters – photo by Vishal Pandey
Review: Bill Stephens OAM