PreHysterical-photo-by-Callan-HarrisCreations like Bluey show us that some kids’ entertainment isn’t just for kids. Another good example is the circus outing PreHysterical at Melbourne Fringe 2023. Parents watching the details here certainly won’t be bored.

In 2022, Head First Acrobats brought the mid-afternoon show PreHysterical, and the outstanding (adults only) GODZ also back for 2023) to Melbourne Fringe. At the end of 2022’s GODZ, demigod Hercules advised punters that if we got some drinks in, we’d find plenty to like about PreHysterical too. Drinks or not, it helps to be up for some silliness.

The Vault is a purpose-built venue with a raised rectangular stage. Punters can view the action from three sides, and our performers conscientiously played to all parts of the house.

The action is performed by three, um, cave-people, sometime in the stone-age. Clad in varying designs of animal print costumes, there’s Grok (Chelsea Angell) the brains of the group, must be why she gets the spear.

She tries to keep cave-bros Og (Alex Caulfield), and (named due to the first of many misfortunes) Oww (Anthony Saltalamacchia) out of trouble. Grok also puts a stop to any dance moves that could become too lewd for the kids in the house.

The trio are mostly friends, and help each other negotiating obstacles in the natural world. But life is tough in these times, so sometimes there’s competition for the limited food on offer. This led to some amusing slow-motion fight scenes, demonstrating our performers’ amazing physical control.

Director Adam Opus shows a stone-axe-sharp sense of how to present a children’s work, as the action charges along like a woolly mammoth, scenes are snappy as a croc, and the players make quick transitions between scenes to keep the energy up. Proceedings must have satisfied the kids, as they were attentive to the performance, some watching with open mouths.

If you’ve seen a deal of circus, you know that it’s good to watch a high level of skill, but also to see some new variants on established forms. Amongst the circus staples of hand balancing, hoops, or ribbons, there are some appealing new twists. Adults in particular might appreciate the groovy soundtrack, and how most of the action sequences are integrated into the story.

Adults’ lives can be busy, but with PreHysterical, it’s possible to Fringe in the daytime, and to share the experience with new fringe-goers. Or you can just go because Head First Acrobats know how to put on amusing and high-quality shows.

The Vault – Festival Park (near Queen Vic Market), Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 14 October 2023
Season continues to 29 October 2023
Information and Bookings:

Image: Chelsea Angell, Anthony Saltalamacchia and Alex Caulfield – photo by Callan Harris

Review: Jason Whyte