News & Reviews
Melbourne - Herald Sun; Review: Circus Oz back in style and on the up
17th June 2016
Rating: Four Stars.
After some years of ups and downs in the wilderness, Circus Oz has its mojo back.
It’s a very big year for Australia’s iconic circus company. A new artistic director is on the horizon and there’s a fresh enthusiasm catapulting, falling and rollerblading through the show TwentySixteen.
Guest director and all-around circus dynamo Anni Davey has shaped some things old, some things new and some wacky and weird things into a cohesive production that’s got grunt under its bonnet. Compared to recent Oz offerings, there’s a greater ratio of meaty acts with stronger choreography and less preachy social commentary.
Music is at the forefront, with the entire cast opening the show in a marching-band style, surging forth with their rag tag, colourful costumes, eccentric hairstyles and swag of instruments.
It’s hard to believe there are only two full-time musicians — Anya Reynolds and Ben Hendry — in the ensemble; such is the rich and exuberant sound throughout the whole show. Traversing Latin, hard rock and percussive symphonies played on a sculptural collage of cymbals and triangles, it’s a moving, grooving feast.
The acts stand for themselves and the mix between smaller showcase routines and larger scale mayhem feels pretty even. While not everything hits bullseyes and there’s some overuse of characters, there’s plenty of entertaining schtick and enough bona fide circus skills to keep a broad audience smiling. Housed within and around two central archways of rigging, the action is well framed by Emily Barrie’s set.
Highlights include Matt Wilson and April Dawson’s teetering clothing swap and Wilson’s “dream sequence” that has him floating high in the air surrounded by miniature red chairs.
With rainbow-dyed beard and sequined jacket sporting the Aboriginal flag, Dale Woodbridge-Brown is a hilarious triple threat of singing, dancing and acting.
Sharon Gruenert’s solid-as-a-rock acrobatics earn her “pocket rocket” status while Sam Aldhams’ sexy fireman is a fun, cheeky take on a traditional rope act.
If this renewed uuumph is a sign of things to come, the Circus Oz crew is back in style and on the up.
Photographer: Rob Blackburn