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Reviews/Circus/Fringe World Festival

Love is definitely in the air

11 February 2021

Fringe show 5+1 gives off such a warm glow that Nina Levy can’t help but forgive its shortcomings.

5+1, Kinetica ·
Big Top at the Woodside Pleasure Garden, 10 February 2021 ·

The first thing you should know about Perth-based circus artists Fay MacFarlane and Anthony Tran is that they are adorable.

Professional and romantic partners, they’ve devised 5+1 to celebrate six years of their relationship, and of performing at Fringe World together, to a soundtrack ranging from whimsical folk-pop to beat-driven electronica.

As they take us through the everyday moments of coupledom – tug-o-wars with bed sheets, wrestling for space in front of the bathroom mirror, sorting through laundry – their love for one another is palpable.

It’d be sickening, were it not for the fact that we’re invited in; their affection for one another envelops the audience, drawing us into its warm glow.

Adorable: Anthony Tran and Fay MacFarlane

That warm glow, along with Tran’s charisma, makes it easier to forgive some of the weaker moments of this show. There’s no doubting the skill of the two performers, particularly when they take to the corde lisse and aerial straps. MacFarlane is especially impressive on the straps – hanging from just one arm she swings her body like a pendulum, but one that twists and turns in seemingly impossible ways.

On the ground, a sleepy duet in which Tran manipulates a semi-comatose yet highly acrobatic MacFarlane is also a charmer, but it starts to drag, physically and literally, as it outstays its welcome.

That’s where 5+1 falters. In its current state, devised by its performers, it could do with a good edit by an outside eye. And though the framework of the couple’s domestic routine is strong, it would benefit from the assistance of a dramaturg to flesh out the characters and the narrative arc. There’s so much potential in the structure of this work – I’d be interested to see how it could be developed with input from a director and/or dramaturg.

I’m not sure Wednesday night’s audience would agree with my assessment, though. Inside the Big Top there was a lot of love for the young couple… but perhaps that’s a reflection of my earlier observation. They’re just a very lovable pair… and that goes a long way.

5+1 runs at the Big Top until 12 February, 2021 as part of Fringe World.

Pictured top: Anthony Tran and Fay MacFarlane devised ‘5+1’ to celebrate their relationship. Photos supplied.

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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