Reviews/Cabaret/Circus/Fringe World Festival

Back to the 80s, circus style

29 January 2021

Packed with nostalgia, Kaleido Company’s 80’s Mixtape is a circus show that keeps its audience buzzing, says Claire Trolio.

80’s Mixtape, Kaleido Company ·
Big Top at The Woodside Pleasure Garden, 27 January, 2021 ·

The art of the mixtape involves putting together a parade of hits with a good dose of the unexpected, stitched together in a seamless flow. For the most part, Kaleido Company achieves just that in its 60-minute homage to the 1980s, 80’s Mixtape.

Primarily a circus show, 80’s Mixtape brings together elements of dance and cabaret too, all with a heavy measure of leg-warming, shoulder-padded nostalgia. It’s good, clean fun from the Perth-based performance company, where the soundtrack is almost as important as the action.

A heavy measure of nostalgia in ’80’s Mixtape’. Photo: Andrew Phillips

Comedian Andrew Silverwood is tasked with MCing the hour, and his opening rendition of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” sets the bar high. Maintaining momentum in any circus or cabaret relies heavily on a good MC, and Silverwood succeeds in keeping the show buoyant. It helped that the crowd came ready to party on opening night – a large cohort of excited friends and family taking their seats to a dash of Kylie meant a toe-tapping energy before the show even began.

As the hour unfolds, the audience is treated to more than a dozen diverse acts: think fire twirling to Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle”, acrobalance backed by Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”, and adagio coupled with a beautiful, live performance of The Pretenders’ “Hymn to Her”. The show’s director, Maisie Hughes, is an early favourite on stage with a mesmerising display of athleticism on the lyra.

Later, Hughes teams with the show’s producer, Sarah Green, on the trapeze. With limbs entwined they swing to the sounds of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after Time”, eliciting awe from those at ground level. It’s a hit.

A tribute to 80s cinema classics was a load of fun, and showed that that jump from “Dirty Dancing” is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. It proved ideal inspiration, too, for a solo from Green on the aerial silks that was nothing short of dazzling.

While Men at Work’s “Down Under” and the use of Vegemite jars as handstand platforms was a clever coupling, three construction worker pin-ups evoking working-class, white Australian larrikinism detracted from the impressive hand balancing that was happening in the foreground. It’s a trope best left in the past.

Ebb and flow are to be expected, especially when a show involves performers with different skill levels as 80’s Mixtape does, and a few of the acts felt like fillers. Despite this, each performer worked the crowd so the Big Top was abuzz from start to finish.

80’s Mixtape is an infectious celebration of 1980s popular culture. With more peaks than troughs, it’s a bankable good time that’s suitable for kids, grandparents and everyone in between.

You can catch 80’s Mixtape in the Big Top at the Woodside Pleasure Garden until 7 February.

Photo: Andrew Phillips

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Author —
Claire Trolio

Claire Trolio completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) at UWA. She writes about Western Australia for various digital and print media and owns a shop with her sister. For her, the spider swing is the ultimate in playground fun.

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    Despite last minute cast changes, Liz Newell’s Toast continues to shine in its second season, writes Claire Trolio.

  • Barking Gecko shines with child-like wonder

    Barking Gecko gets the balance just right in its latest production – a delightful daydream that brings out the child in us all, writes Claire Trolio.

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