Though their script may lack sizzle, Zap Circus impresses Bruce Denny with fiery acts of dare-devilry.
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Circus Fire Spectacular, Zap Circus ·
The Big Top in The Pleasure Garden, 22 January 2022 ·
It’s a scorcher in Perth, so let’s go and watch a fire storm inside a tent. Full of flaming stunts, Zap Circus’s Circus Fire Spectacular, created and performed by WA husband and wife team Rusty Hammond and Tarrabelle Murphy, turns up the heat literally and metaphorically.
But what’s Fringe without a little discomfort?
Having shuffled and snaked its way into The Pleasure Garden’s Big Top, the opening night crowd sat patiently while Hammond and Murphy set up props, performing an occasional trick interspersed with banter. A person sitting behind me muttered “it’s a bit of a slow start” – indeed, the performers only introduced themselves 20 minutes after the slated start time of 8pm.
What’s more, the Acknowledgment of Country felt a little generic and insincere as it didn’t mention the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation on whose land they were on.
Nonetheless, the pair’s skills are impressive, and they entertain the audience with energetic feats of acrobatics and flame, more often than not, simultaneously. On opening night, the crack of a burning bull whip made many flinch in their seats. At other times punters sprang to life with spontaneous applause for the daring and dangerous feats.
Most of us mortals have trouble keeping one hula hoop going, let alone multiples that are on fire. Now imagine standing on your partner’s shoulder while both of you twirl batons that are alight and burning bright at both ends. I was going to try this, but the current fire bans in Perth stopped me.
Another highlight is a light sabre segment. The speed, vivid colours and sheer brightness of the wand’s flashing messages had the audience enthralled. I tried hard to work out how they were getting such a fantastic effect but they were twirling so fast I had no chance.
The energy and skills of Hammond and Murphy are undeniable and the audience seemed to have a ball. With copious self-promotion and daggy dad jokes, however, the script would benefit from an edit and an update.
Pictured top is Tarrabelle Murphy. Photo: Eye Candy Australia
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