News & Reviews
Review - Precarious - ★★★★½ The Age
3rd July 2018
Time isn't all that flies as Circus Oz turns 40
Circus Oz ★★★★½
By Cameron Woodhead 1 July 2018
Circus Oz has been a driving force in contemporary circus since it was founded 40 years ago, and it marks the anniversary in spectacular style, under a big top in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Precarious is a slick combination of the company’s traditional strengths – especially its ensemble acrobatics and gift for storytelling – that creates a whimsical and enchanting world, where Nature is run by an absurd bureaucracy, and chaos is never far away.
It begins with blocks being removed from an enormous Jenga tower, leaving an acrobat stranded mid-air, and as we enter the ‘‘Ministry of Nature’’, proceeds with dizzying group floor routines. The ensemble work is an absolute joy: brilliantly choreographed mayhem performed with astonishing synchronicity and physical precision.
Eventually, these bumbling bureaucrats realise they have mislaid their one fertile seed, and that prompts a clownish adventure which lightly touches on the fragility of our relationship to the environment.
Naturally, of course, the wow-factor is high, but the real pleasure lies in how seamlessly the circus is worked into characterful scenes. There are block handstands in archive rooms (Jon Bonaventura), an errant seed is extracted from a pipe through slapstick (Tara Silcock) and a swinging Chinese pole routine (Lachlan Sukroo).
The quality and inventiveness of the individual acts, as well as the athleticism, balance and grace on display, will delight even seasoned circusgoers. It’s a show with bungee trapeze (Dylan Singh) and aerial slings (Tania Cervantes Chamorro), Cyr wheel (Jake Silverstro) and acrobalance, with juggling and tumbling of every stripe.
There’s even a live band (Sophia Exiner and Jeremy Hopkins) funking it up on synth and drums, who get in on the action with a super-quirky Lunch Song.
Co-directors Kate Fryer and Rob Tannion have created a richly imagined fantasy where the spectacle and daring and novelty of circus meet theatrical polish and craft. Precarious is a fitting tribute to a company with a long and storied history; we can only hope the next 40 years at Circus Oz produces work half as entertaining and immersive.
This review appeared in The Age, Sunday 1 July