It wouldn’t feel like a real Midsumma Festival without a programme at Gasworks. The 2020 edition is off to a good start, thanks to an exclusive season of You & I by Brisbane-founded, award-winning circus company Casus. Based on this opening-night viewing, high praise afforded the work’s UK tour is certainly deserved.
Melbourne audiences may recall the company’s ensemble offerings, such as Knee Deep. Here, Casus offer us something different. Performers (and Creative Directors) Lachlan McAulay and Jesse Scott present a wordless tale of two men living together as a couple that’s studded with impressive action sequences.
Casus have “strong representation from the LGBTIQ+ community” and like to use their shows to undermine traditional gender roles. This was evident in the story and content of You & I. Yes, our ripped performers here show abundant strength and control in their acrobatics and balancing. Yet, right from the start, it is the lightness and playfulness of movement that stands out, recurring in various scenes to underscore the feeling between the pair, even in the uncertain time when one is absent.
Broadly, the men are stuck at home on a dreary, rain-deluged day, and seek ways to entertain themselves. This might be through a ridiculous game of rapid-fire dress-ups (but semi-nudity might not suit everyone), or performing tricks for each other. Through this there were some sparkling moments of tenderness; Scott’s frantically escalating hoop routine, so as to be sufficiently entertaining, is soothed by his partner McAulay, reassuringly that he doesn’t need to try so hard.
Perhaps you had to squint to see the narrative in some segments, but this hardly mattered. Both performers displayed not only a high level of skill in their sequences, there were eye-popping moments, as through high-velocity revolutions. There were also a number of novel slants on tricks to make them fresh, say by exploring different axes of rotation, or using props. The diversity of scenes and moods were complemented by the well-chosen musical accompaniment, and Rob Scott’s lighting design.
In the show’s blurb, Casus write “This unashamedly authentic journey reveals a fresh narrative where gay stories are not consumed by tragedy but filled with conviction and acceptance.” The company have achieved this by exploring the companionship between the two characters, and made the work humorous by showing how their comfort with each other allows them to be silly together. The only “tragedy” here is the very short Melbourne season of You & I. Circus fans should make tracks to Gasworks while they can.
You & I
Gasworks Theatre – Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park
Performance: Wednesday 22 January 2020 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 25 January 2020
For more information, visit: www.casus.com.au for details.
Image: Lachlan McAulay and Jesse Scott star in You & I – photo by Katie Bennett
Review: Jason Whyte