Melbourne Fringe – Best of the Boardwalk – ONE NIGHT ONLY

Hazel Bock Hazel's Circus SuitcaseBest of the Boardwalk – ONE NIGHT ONLY sold itself as “the ultimate circus variety show”. It also aimed to draw on the best acts of the Boardwalk Republic – a circus-focused hub held at Gasworks Arts Park in Fringes gone by.

I was keen to get an overview of choice cuts from the Gasworks to inform late additions to my Fringing programme. There doesn’t seem to be a Boardwalk Republic this time around, which must have forced the show’s producers to change their approach.

The Lithuanian Club’s Main Theatre hosts various shows this Fringe. Time and venue constraints may have imposed some limitations on which apparatus, and hence performers, it can accommodate. Whilst we didn’t get aerial acts for example, the audience was still presented with a range of quality circus snippets, hosted by “the quick witted Americano Charlie Carbone” – who could repeat himself a little less or add some jokes to keep the energy up between acts.

I enjoyed contortionist Jacinta Rohan’s intoxicated character and the slicker parts of Lachlan Sukroo’s (Circus Oz) box juggling. Malia Walsh (Circus Tricktease) continued her history of participating in a more adult form of circus through amusingly uncomfortable novelty of a hoop routine combined with gross-out humour and inebriated sexuality. Whilst these spots were entertaining, perhaps making them available to a performer who actually had a Fringe show to promote would have better served the interests of both artists and their possible audience?

Those performers seeking to entice us with show snippets did well. Idris Stanton (Pants Down Circus, Papillon) impressed in his opening, combining comedic reflections on his life with seemingly risky juggling. His early evening show Last King of Vaudeville runs until 30 September 30 at Arts House.

Mark Graham demonstrated hand-balancing with unnatural flexibility. He appears in Papillon Unplugged from 19 – 30 September at Gasworks. Simon Wright of the perpetually toothy smile and kids show Trash Test Dummies (Emerald City at the Meat Market, 2pm or 3pm 23 – 30 Sept) got to explore his more grown-up inclinations in a unicycle striptease that earned good laughs.

For my guest and I the night belonged to harlequin character and juggler extraordinaire Hazel Bock. Her two segments showed us a new slant on a familiar discipline. Skills displayed included rapid ball movement by hand and surprising dexterity by foot. The abundant fun of her act, coupled with Bock’s obvious love of performing as seen through a goofy kind of smile, made her compelling viewing. For novel variations and mad skills, see Bock’s mid-afternoon show Hazel’s Circus Suitcase at Emerald City in the Meat Market, 23 – 30 September.

All up, the showcase was a pleasant hour due to a good collection of skills, and was an effective advertisement for the acts involved.

Best of the Boardwalk – ONE NIGHT ONLY
Main Hall – Lithuanian Club, 44 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 16 September 2017 – 7.30pm (one night only)

Image: Hazel Bock (supplied)

Review: Jason Whyte