Hot Summer Nights!

GAP Tro Griffiths courtesy of Gasworks Arts ParkDescribing Cirque du Soleil, Australian comedian Kitty Flanagan said you shouldn’t need a degree to understand a circus show. As the January heat starts building, punters (aged 15+) may be relieved to find they don’t need to think too much whilst enjoying the latest steamy instalment of Hot Summer Nights!

Our returning host – multi-award-winning singer Tash York (recently of Tash York’s Happy Hour) – advised that the show’s 2023 version was held in the adjacent dog park. It’s a good move this time around to use the Gasworks main theatre, so the sizzling heat is seen on the stage, not felt in the stands.

An ensemble routine with a balance of synchronicity and writhing (backed by Night’s 1979 tune Hot Summer Nights) set the scene for a lively hour of assorted circus acts. If some of these weren’t as spectacular as routines seen elsewhere, they certainly compensated with an abundance of character. Acts coordinated well with the soundtrack, which added to the excitement in a number of high-energy sequences.

This year’s line-up of performers has featured in shows by companies including Circa, Briefs, and Yummy the Show. Bede Nash showed some new twists on hula hoops, and impressive strength and flexibility in hand balancing.

Ezra Mishka demonstrated their affection for Rue Cyr and affinity for a high-cut leotard. Strutting confidence in a lip-synch drag routine earned laughs from keeping us off balance.

Tro Griffiths showed an ability to contort to music in an Aerial Hoop routine, and gave us vigorous transitions on Straps, presenting a very different version of work in “high-viz” attire.

The program also featured some less-common circus arts. A fire routine from Aleisha Manion turned up the heat, flickering flames giving us flashes of danger. Suspended in the Dance Trapeze sequence, Manion gracefully carved kinetic art from the air above us.

Jacqueline Furey developed some characters whist doing some sharp work in their spots. First was a Sword Swallowing routine, radiating attitude in a short black PVC dress. There was also an amusing visit with a wallflower character seeking to embrace her wilder side through “Grinding” (sparks with an angle grinder).

Sassy York kept the show smoothly rolling along through the set changes, either with the quality vocal performances we expect, or though working audience details into improvised raps.

Given the torrent of action, there’s not much time to think here. However, even shallow entertainments like Baywatch realised that sometimes a slow-motion sequence could be appropriate. There was the odd time when a pause would have helped the audience appreciate just how remarkable were the feats of strength or flexibility flashing before us.

Minor quibbles aside, Hot Summer Nights! claims to be about “Glam, glitter and circus” and it delivers on all these fronts. The costuming and lighting combined to make this a sexy, dazzling outing that should please many Midsumma punters.

Hot Summer Nights!
Gasworks Theatre – Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park
Performance: Tuesday 23 January 2024
Season continues to 3 February 2024
Information and Bookings:

Image: Tro Griffiths – courtesy of Gasworks Arts Park

Review: Jason Whyte