News & Reviews
Sydney, Australia - Stage Whispers; But Wait… There’s More
5th January 2016
When you enter the foyer of the Circus Oz big top, there’s a man loudly selling programs, promising that if you buy, you can learn to read, become even smarter and pick up invaluable information to help “understand the show”. At interval, the same man is selling choc tops, again an over-the-top salesman, promising products that will change your life.
He doesn’t actually say “But Wait… There’s More” but he’s clearly pointing to the show’s ideas around consumerism and commodification. Like much of the show, the reference here is subtle, perhaps too much so. “But Wait… There’s More” is obviously a stock phrase of the circus too and it’s this meaning that’s more evident throughout. Just when you think you’ve seen the top trick on the unicycle, trapeze or with umpteen hoola hoops… there’s more!
Circus Oz’s main aim is to show you a good time, as only an Australian company can. The humour is irreverent; the performers are brash, cheeky, even lackadaisical (well, they pretend to be). On the trapeze, they whoop, laugh, and scream: the joy as much about the effort as the skills they deploy. There’s never any holding back on what they’re here to provide: unbridled fun.
Dale Woodbridge-Brown is a funny circus master, quick with the one-liners and spot-on with timing. Other standouts include trapeze artist Spenser Inwood and juggler Olivia Porter, who also creates the show’s most memorable character: a dorky, clumsy eccentric. But this is a true ensemble: each performer has a skill that complements another.
In the background but often coming to the fore is music by the Circus Oz Band, compositions which integrate perfectly with the performances, adding tension and drama but never stealing the show.
While most of the performance is simply about having a good time, the best moments resonate with the idea of consumerism. There’s a quirky, witty segment about video games, where performers jump through static hoops or indeed television screens and draw laughs from knowing references to screen characters. The company’s take on clowns has an unsettling consumerist angle too, highlighting the ignoble intentions of those salespeople who try to sell you more, more and more.
It’s a shame the show doesn’t explore this theme through more of the acts. In doing so, But Wait… There’s More could be more fulfilling.
But the skills and merriment on show here is truly infectious and Circus Oz once again shows why it’s one of our best performance troupes across any genre.
But Wait… There’s More has already toured to the US and Canada, and played in Melbourne, and it’s a joy to see this experienced cast in Sydney. Hopefully the audience will build – there were quite a lot of spare seats on our night, a notable contrast to Cirque de Soleil’s Totem in the same park a year ago. These Australian performers are on par, if not above their international friends, and deserve just as big a crowd.
Photographer: Rob Blackburn