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Reviews/Circus/Fringe World Festival

Deadset at the heart of Fringe

25 January 2021

Think you’ve seen everything circus has to offer? Jan Hallam says the all-heart, all-woman Deadset crew had the audience giddy with delight.

Deadset, Yuck Circus ·
De Parel Spiegeltent, 21 January, 2021 ·

Just when you think you’ve had your lifetime’s fill of circus, edgy or otherwise, along comes a crew of women who change all that.

Yuck Circus – comprising onstage performers Georgia Deguara, Jessica Smart, Ella Norton, Brooke Duckworth and Karla Scott – may not be the slickest nor the most tricksy troupe you have ever seen, but they have enormous heart, warmth, humour and something much underrated these days – charm.

Norton’s tradie character shapes the show’s schtick; it’s a composite of caricature and the guy up the scaffolding down the road, and somehow, magically, it draws a hodge-podge audience into slavery – theatre’s great alchemy, and it was wonderful to feel it.

Photo: Charles Gervais

Don’t think that they cover up a lack of skill with the patter – that is simply not the case. To have both is a pleasure, and after the creative drought of the past 12 months, the relief and release for the audience to spend 50 minutes with performers who so wanted to be on stage were palpable.

Shoulders dropped, smiles appeared, a little shakily at first, and then the dam burst, and the audience was wiping away tears and looking at their neighbours with that giddy bright-eyed delight that only pure pleasure can bring.

There’s a thrill about aerial acrobatics that will always elevate it to the top of the circus wow list. In the restricted performance space of the Spiegeltent, options are limited to the vertical, but Duckworth makes the most of it with her aerial silk routine, which is powerful, elegant and accomplished.

One of the most moving aspects of the circus genre, for me, is the close camaraderie of the performers. While they pratfall and trip each other on stage, if one of their number is 15 metres in the air, contorting herself around a couple of strands of silk without a net, the others’ eyes never leave her, nor do their hands leave the safety rope. The light and dark, the comedy and tragedy – they are mere split seconds away from each other.

The ground routines are fun with Scott’s balancing and Smart’s athletic comedy drawing the audience ever deeper into their thrall. However, it is Norton’s choc-milk swilling tradie and her orgasmic turn with the diabolo that will probably live longest in the audience’s memory. That is worth the ticket price alone.

Add with the staple tradie pub rock soundtrack, Deadset pulses its way to the heart of the Fringe.

It’s a treat.

Deadset runs in the Lotterywest De Parel Spiegeltent at the Woodside Pleasure Garden, runs until 25 January, then from 27 to 31 January, and 9 to 13 February.

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Author —
Jan Hallam

Jan Hallam has been watching theatre for a living for the past 30 years. Working for both The West Australian and The Sunday Times, she has been lucky to have experienced just how diverse and talented the Perth arts scene is. When she’s not sitting in the dark, she’s staring at the light of a computer screen as editor and journalist. She’s the queen of the sandpit castle.

Past Articles

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    Whale Fall, the touching story of a young transgender kid trying to find their own path in life, is a wonderful and intelligent play, writes Jan Hallam.

  • Stories that mustn’t remain untold

    The righteous anger of earlier productions of The Vagina Monologues has strengthened and deepened, Jan Hallam finds, and the themes of women’s oppression and fear are still disappointingly relevant.

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