News & Reviews
Seattle, WA, USA - Seattle Pi; A small, wacky Circus Oz
6th February 2015
It may not have the dazzle of Cirque de Soleil or the over-the-top tomfoolery of Teatro ZinZanni, but Australia’s Circus Oz is a wacky one-ring circus with an appeal all its own.
With a dynamic troupe of 10 circus performers – most of them acrobats – plus two musicians and a female emcee, Circus Oz offers a few death-defying feats but mostly an evening of delightful aerial and earthbound acts, live music, rigging and dynamic staging.
Laurel Frank’s costumes, which include showgirl chic, outlandish wigs, clown look-alikes clad in in barcoded rompers and vintage-looking tartans— add a loopy element to the show.
Circus Oz was founded in Melbourne in 1979 to make circus skills and tricks relevant to a contemporary audience. The founders added elements of rock’n’roll, popular theater and satire to create a show for all ages. Rather than showcase a hierarchy of stars, Circus Oz celebrates the group as a whole. As a result, the performers are multi-talented, cavorting on a unicycle one minute, swinging from a trapeze the next.
One of Australia’s main cultural exports, Circus Oz has performed in 27 countries, including the US, but this is their first time to Seattle. The Moore Theatre’s small stage is perfect for their scaled-down tricks, allowing us to see not just the magic but also the effort involved.
The current company is composed of many new performers and it shows. Forthe current show, But Wait…There’s More, the producers undertookan extensive casting process across Australia’s circus community, reshaping the Circus Oz ensemble. The result is a mixed bag of skill levels. Although the entire company radiates an infectious lunacy, on opening night there were a number of misses in many of the acts. Troupers that they are, however, the performers redid certain tricks until they got them right, much to the delight of the audience.
There’s no printed program so it’s hard to identify which performers did which act (their website photos are no help), but veteran Matt Wilson is a standout as a philosophy-spouting presence who can sing, fall from great heights and engage in hilarious physical comedy.
At least in its present incarnation, Circus Oz may not knock your socks off but it will provide an evening of chaotic mayhem you (and your kids if you take them) will remember for a long time.
Photographer: Rob Blackburn