You could gorge on shows in a night at the Sidesault Festival of new slants on Circus. My second show of an evening was Boss Squad by Madhouse Circus and Point & Flex Circus. The show’s blurb indicates “Five fearless females are smashing stereotypes while smashing out tricks.”
We began with each performer giving a quick overview of their personality, or some recollections of how others have perceived this. Our performers were here to show that they won’t be limited by labels placed on them by others.
Displays of solidarity amongst the performers seemed appropriate, but it was unfortunate that some struggled with the apparatus used in these group routines. The odd mistake didn’t matter, it just encouraged the audience to cheer louder when the next attempt succeeded.
However, there were a good deal of mishaps overall, somewhat undermining the enjoyment of watching. Similarly, some of the more repetitive tumbling sequences would have benefitted from a trim to keep the show moving along.
As for the “smashing stereotypes”, possible attempts to do this were not as effective as they could be. One performer had a “Tomboy” sign stapled to her, followed by another reading “Real Girl” as she bled on stage. I didn’t understand why the false label was delivered in the same way, and had the same effect, as the self-assigned one.
As we have been led to expect a theme from Boss Squad, perhaps the work would benefit from further dramaturgical development. The company did well with the “smashing out tricks” in high-energy routines, such as with skipping ropes and hoops, that showed these grrls mean business.
There were some impressive displays of strength, and the costuming, makeup and characterisations ensured that our performers all had their own distinct presence and look, balancing the fierce and the glamorous.
Boss Squad clearly has a lot of potential. In this #TimesUp era, Madhouse Circus and Point & Flex Circus have cleverly realised that circus performance provides a novel way of drawing attention to challenges of women’s lives. I look forward to seeing them command Big Tops in the future.
Sidesault at the Melba: Boss Squad
The Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnson Street, Collingwood
Performance: Saturday 13 October 2018 – 9.30pm
Season: 11 – 14 October 2018 (ended)
Image: Marina Gellmann, Felicia Lannan and Amy Stuart – photo by Brig Bee Photography
Review: Jason Whyte