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Melbourne - Model Citizens Review - Herald Sun

23rd June 2017

Circus Oz is back on track with their new show

Rating: four and half stars

Australia’s iconic circus company is rebooted and rocking the tent. After some dark years, Circus Oz looks reinvigorated in Model Citizens, the first show under new director Rob Tannion.

While there are some familiar faces among the multiskilled acrobats and musicians, it’s mostly a whole different crew. Staying true to Circus Oz’s ethos, Model Citizens is very much an ensemble affair, cleverly tapping into the strong circus abilities in the mix.

With traces of the historical company’s cheeky irreverence (only Circus Oz can still get away with an act dangling from oversized men’s undies), Model Citizens embraces the slightly corny, the mundane and the just plan wacky. Where is succeeds is taking these quirks into dramatic and relatable territory.

Domestic and Australiana imagery, much of which is re-imagined into actual circus equipment, becomes a catalyst for prying into more universal ideas.

Steamy clothes irons make stilts for Jarred Dewey’s contortion. A massive washing peg becomes a teeterboard and over-size scissors are convenient for hoop diving. These ambitious concepts could fall flatter than a trapeze accident, but here they mostly work because they are partnered with technical finesse and dramatic flair.

The palette is glorious blue — royal, light, navy and every shade in between. It’s a cohesion that carries through to all aspects of the set, with the musicians (led by the amazing Anya Reynolds) housed in a sharply-angled platform upstage but still free to mingle into the physicality.

Unconventional looking Mitch Jones, who is of generous tattoo and pink mohawk, is the ringmaster of sorts, not conforming to mainstream notions of fitting in and, at one point, having nightmares of counting sheep in suburbia while trapped in a pajama straight jacket.

Luke Ha balances atop a precarious house of gigantic credit cards — taking confident selfies, until a fellow performer pulls one card from the pack. Ha collapses from his perch, not so unlike real people treading precariously with debt, trying to stay afloat.

The cast are uniformly excellent. Jake Silvestro’s cyr wheel and Tania Cervantes-Chamorro unique take on aerial neck hangs pack big punches. So too Alex Weibel Weibel who plays violin while perched on a multi-stranded web of tightrope.


When it all comes together in a complex, integrated finale, it really feels like a reflection of life — people supporting each other and building great things; things falling apart; trying again.

Model Citizens is fragile and resilient all at once. Daggy too. And there’s real fire. Check out the new Circus Oz.

Stephanie Glickman, Herald Sun

June 23, 2017 10:14am

Reviewer: Stephanie Glickman

Melbourne - Model Citizens Review - Herald Sun -