20210505_21415_Art_Awards_Banner_PROOF02.jpg
Reviews/Circus/Fringe World Festival

Thrills and spills in the Big Top

22 January 2021

In the Freo Big Top, Rita Clarke relishes getting up close to the amazing performers in Le Doublé Bill.

Le Doublé Bill, Simon Wood ·
Circus WA Freo Big Top, 21 January, 2021 ·
Review by Rita Clarke ·

All circuses are a give-and-give affair. Performers donate talent, fitness and super-human strength and audiences give back, yelling and applauding – while perhaps bemoaning the fact that their arms ache even when they’re just clapping.

Possibly because of this interaction, before the start of Le Doublé Bill circus – created by WA artists Cat Ranieri, Simon Wood and Ben Kotovski-Steele – you relax outside in the colourful Carnibar, perched on well-loved sofas or the grass under a tree, a kind of green-room for the soon-to-be-active audience.

It’s rather a shock, then to be heralded into the cavernous white tent, bare, sparsely seated and totally bereft of the usual brightly coloured decor and razzamatazz. Children are ushered excitedly into tiny seats at the front.

Cat Ranieri’s balancing prowess impressed in her ‘Get Fit with Jane Funda’ act. Photo: Tashi Hall

In the first act, Ranieri poses as a hilarious Jane Funda, aping the 1980s disco-led get-fit fanatic dressed in neon Lycra and the era’s ubiquitous headband. She gets the audience to warm up with her. The children were adorable – never work with kids and animals, don’t they say?

Ranieri raises herself up by her fingertips on top of barely-balanced, multiple high-stacked chairs, does press-ups hanging upside-down, and sculpts her body into eye-watering contortions. She is funny and skilled on the trapeze, especially with a choreographed mock-drama performed to “All by Myself” and “Hero”.

In “Down. Rebound”, performed by Wood and Kotovski-Steele, we learn about the vicissitudes of mounting a circus work. They first talk about each other – of Kotovski-Steele’s injuries and Wood’s dancing skills, recently upgraded in London.

The act that follows seemed in the throes of being perfected on opening night: juggling sticks fell to the floor but the next minute Kotovski-Steele would balance one upon the other in full flight. They mistimed some acrobatics, but you weren’t quite sure which of them were actual mistakes, which was humorous and endearing. Their rope climbing – an athletic practice that began with the ancient Greeks – was adept and beautiful.

For those used to the polish of shows like Cirque du Soleil, Le Doublé Bill will seem very pared back, but its attraction is how up-close and physical you get to the performers. You sense their vulnerability, warm to them, and are amazed by them.

Le Doublé Bill is on in the Circus WA Freo Big Top until 24 January, 2021.

Pictured top: Excited kids sit ringside in the Big Top as Simon Wood, left, and Ben Kotovski-Steele juggle clubs in ‘Down. Rebound’, the second act of ‘Le Doublé Bill’. Photo: Tashi Hall


Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Guest Writer

Let's hear from others in the arts playground! Seesaw is proud to offer writing from a variety of specialist guest writers.

Past Articles

  • Dreams of dancing men

    In The Beauty Index, choreographer Annette Carmichael offers a future for masculinity that embraces softness as much as strength.

  • Art and culture matter in our State election

    In the lead up to the State election on 13 March, it is critical that our political leaders recognise that Western Australian arts and creative jobs are increasingly at risk as pandemic restrictions continue. We are currently enjoying a summer festival season that is being strongly supported by the public, yet these experiences are under threat without strategic thinking and investment.

Read Next

  • Dayana Hardy Acuna as Giselle, Oscar Valdes as Albrecht with the dancers of West Australian Ballet in Giselle (2021). Photo by Bradbury Photography In the white tutu of the a Wili, Dayana Hardy Acuna holds an arabesque en pointe, leaning on the shoulder of Oscar Valdes who kneels in front of her. To their right is a line of white tutu clad Wilis. Romantic tale transcends the centuries
    Reviews

    Romantic tale transcends the centuries

    14 May 2021

    West Australian Ballet’s 2021 season of Giselle demonstrates that this 180 year old ballet still has the capacity to touch audience’s hearts, says Kim Balfour.

    Reading time • 7 minutesDance
  • Sophia Forrest and Darius Williams in 'I and You' A young man and woman embrace. They are sitting on a bed, with fairy lights in the background. She has a year on her face. The arrival of something special?
    Reviews

    The arrival of something special?

    13 May 2021

    In the high-quality double bill The Children and I and You David Zampatti hopes we might be seeing the emergence of a worthy successor to a long-lost, legendary Perth theatre company.

    Reading time • 7 minutesTheatre
  • Grace Ware, Find a place to sit, 2020. Image courtesy Five images of artist Grace Ware, posing with an inflatable fluorsecent yellow life-jacket type object. She is dressed in black and wears a black face mask. Nurturing passion, hatching fire
    Reviews

    Nurturing passion, hatching fire

    13 May 2021

    The 24 graduate artists showcased in this year’s “Hatched” exhibition have created a powerful and pensive testimonial to their generation, writes Patrick Gunasekera.

    Reading time • 7 minutesVisual Art

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio