Following a three-month tour through Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, Circus Oz have returned home and settled back into Birrarung Marr on the banks of the Yarra for their annual Melbourne Big Top season with their latest offering, Model Citizens.
The first show to be directed by Circus Oz’s new Artistic Director, Rob Tannion, Model Citizens rollicks along with a mostly new ensemble, challenging elements of Australian identity while dazzling the audience with some extraordinary physical skills.
Through the use of forced perspective, Michael Baxter’s design is both simple and complex at the same time. The angular framed set, through the use of forced perspective, visually defines and alters the performance space. Drawing inspiration from Yves Klein, the design’s colour palette is carried through to Laurel Frank’s stunning costumes, that are a delight.
Musical director Ania Reynolds draws on a variety of styles to provide a quirky musical backdrop that is fun and lively. Leading from her keyboard, and occasionally bari-sax, she is well supported by her motley crew of musicians including Jeremy Hopkins on the drums, Michelle John on cello, Matt Wilson on bass, and Alexander Weibel Weibel on violin.
Circus Oz has always had a distinct brand of Australian humour, and this year is no different. Blending some very tongue in cheek political and social commentary, one of the many highlights throughout the show was Jeremy Hopkins, and his ode to the Weber BBQ, complete with a flock of very nervous sheep.
Tannion has drawn out the best of his ensemble. The opportunity to refine acts during their three month tour has paid dividends for the Melbourne season audience, redefining standard circus fare with a mix of new tricks – not seen recently in a Circus Oz show, through the use of over-sized, everyday objects are used as unexpected circus apparatus.
Jake Silvestro, Lachlan Sukro, Steph Mouat, Luke Ha and Mitch Jones back-flip off a giant vertical clothes peg, Luke Ha’s extraordinary balancing act on an over-sized set of collapsing credit cards, and Olivia Porter once again, brings her quirky juggling ball to life. Jake Silvestro dazzles in his Cyr wheel routine, while Freyja Edney goes all hard core with her hula-hoops.
Not only does Mitch Jones (aka Captain Ruin) stand out with an electric pink Mohawk and an impressive set of body-art, his knife routine with Freyja Edney brings some audible gasps from the audience as Alexander Weibel Weibel serenades nonchalantly on violin. Tania Cervantes Chamorro, Jarred Dewey, and Roseanne Chalker McCann, each brings some impressive aerial work not seen in previous Circus Oz shows.
However, it is Weibel and his multiple slack rope routine that elevates circus arts to another dimension providing a thrilling finale to an already amazing show. This award winning Spanish/American circus artist and musician shows why he is one of the world’s best and in demand internationally, as he combines the art of rope balancing, at times playing the violin, that leads to a breathtaking 360 degree spin – simply stunning!
Circus Oz Big Top, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 22 June 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 16 July 2017
For more information, visit: www.circusoz.com for details.
Image: Alexander Weibel Weibel on the slack ropes – photo by Rob Blackburn
Review: Rohan Shearn