A woman, a man and a bird surrounded by flowers.
Circus, Music, Musical theatre, News, Opera, Performing arts, Theatre

First peek at 2019 Perth Festival

Perth Festival has given us a tantalising glimpse of its 2019 programme, revealing four of the works on the line-up.

Returning to open the Festival will be Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak, a nocturnal wonderland that will, once again, light up Kings Park over four nights. This free, outdoor event is a celebration of Noongar culture and the beauty and biodiversity of the South West of WA, that sees audiences take a kaleidoscopic walk through projections, animation, sound and lighting effect along Fraser Avenue and deep into Kings Park.’

Balls of light in a park at night
‘Boorna Waanginy’. Photo: Toni Wilkinson.

That weekend will also see two international shows, both Australian exclusives, open in Perth. The first, Lang Toi, by Nouveau Cirque de Vietnam, is a daring display of acrobatics, physical theatre, live traditional music and playful bamboo constructions, that transports the audience into the heart of a Vietnamese village.

an acrobat standing on one hand
A scene from ‘Lang Toi’. Photo: Nguyen Duc Minh.

The second work, The Great Tamer, sees Greece’s Dimitris Papaioannou explore the mysteries of life, death and the beauty of humanity with enigmatic, dreamlike scenes and visual riddles. Using ten performers and a shape-shifting floor that undulates to Johann Strauss’s “Blue Danube”, Papaioannou’s magical stagecraft brings to life a series of inventive live paintings.

Last – for now – but not least, flying elephants, gaudy 1920s flappers, comic-book villains, gigantic spiders, butterflies and wolves run rampant as performers interact with animated characters in Barrie Kosky’s exhilarating production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, presented by Kosky’s Komische Oper Berlin, British theatre group 1927 in association with West Australian Opera and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

The full 2019 Perth Festival program will be announced 1 November 2018.

Pictured top is a scene from Komische Oper Berlin’s “The Magic Flute”.

A man throwing seeds over his head
A scene from ‘The Great Tamer’. Photo: Julian Mommert.
circus oz
Calendar, Circus, December 18, Music, November 18, Performing arts

Circus: Circus Oz with WASO

30 Nov, 8pm & 1 Dec, 2pm @ Perth Concert Hall ·
Presented by West Australian Symphony Orchestra ·

Join WASO as they entwine their music around the acrobatic limbs of Circus Oz in a spectacular fusion of two extraordinary and dramatically different art forms. Be swept up by the power of the live orchestra as Australia’s daredevil stunt masters defy the laws of physics, tickle your funny-bone and push the boundaries of impossibility.

More info: http://tickets.waso.com.au

Compagnie XY Il n'est pas encore minuit
Circus, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Hoopla! Hoopla!

Perth Festival review: Il n’est pas encore minuit by Compagnie XY·
Regal Theatre, 9 February ·
Review by Varnya Bromilow ·

I don’t have a whole heap of regrets, but one that I do have is never having learned to do anything really incredible.  I’m not talking about learning to speak Spanish fluently, or playing the trombone…these are admirable skills to be sure, but they are not incredible.  I mean doing a triple axle on ice-skates, or starting a fire with two sticks, or memorizing the phone book.  Doing backflips off someone’s shoulders definitely counts.  It’s a skill that evokes sheer wonder.

This sense of wonder filled the Regal Theatre last Friday when an underpacked house witnessed the spectacle that is Compagnie XY.  The French troupe of acrobats are renowned for pushing the limits of the human body…Il n’est past encore minuit (It is not yet midnight) does just that.  The show begins with a series of authentic-seeming wrestles between the players – so authentic that I convinced my junior companions that I’d forgotten it was actually a fighting show, not an acrobat show we were here to see.  The mild tension built by these fierce tackles quickly changed to laughter when two very petite women took centre-stage, wrestling with such brutality that it felt a bit like watching a couple of elves having a battle.

Wrestling transformed seamlessly into throwing…the throwing of bodies, that is.  Watching how easily bodies were propelled into the air, it was difficult to remember that these were actual human beings being tossed around, rather than feather-weight fairy people.  One of the really refreshing aspects of Compagnie XY is the sheer diversity of human forms within the circus.  Of course, one has the petite women and men who form the top of human towers, but there were also a good number of more generously proportioned individuals.  Remarkably, these latter figures were also frequently airborne.  There’s a spirit of egalite here in all aspects of play.  The usual gender roles one observes within the circus are regularly flouted – women suspending smaller men; the troupe holding men aloft, rather than the usual female star.

There’s also a vast range of ages performing – I haven’t been able to pin down the age of the troupe’s founder, Abdeliazide Senhadji, but let’s just say he has the silver hair and bearing of someone in his late 40’s or early 50’s.  Others are barely into their 20’s.  It’s a novel and gorgeous thing to witness such a disparate group of bodies coming together in perfect cohesion.

And there is so much to witness!  One’s eyes flit ceaselessly around the Regal’s sizeable stage, trying not to miss a thing.  This is impossible – you’re caught up in an elaborately arranged pile of humans when suddenly from stage left a body literally flies into view.  Highlights included a sequence involving four humans standing atop each other’s shoulders; a perfectly average-sized man being propelled into the air off a plywood platform, executing a triple backflip; a tower of three humans collapsing forward into a group of catchers only to remain assembled and then tipped backwards into the arms of other catchers.  Ridiculous!  My personal favourite was a subtle routine wherein players had another player standing on their shoulders…they then strolled calmly about, no hands supporting the weight of the human atop them.

Mix in an eclectic mix of music and you’re left with a wonderfully entertaining hour, thoroughly deserving of the gasping admiration and standing ovation from the audience.

Fabulous. I implore you to see it.  No really – go and book your ticket now.

Il n’est pas encore minuit runs until February 17th

Photo: Perth Festival

Fisticuffs
Circus, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Bemusing but beguiling

Fringe World review: Fisticuffs by Sven Hopla ·
Cirquest, 8 February ·
Review by Suzanne Ingelbrecht ·

A rope hanging from the rafters, a punch bag marked Cassius and a military helmet named Born to Klown and we’re in the set-up for Sven Hopla’s Fisticuffs and some classic bait-the-audience clowning.

Red crabs, the kind that make their annual pilgrimage across deadly Christmas Island roads to mate and spawn on the beach, are thrown into the audience as proof of the tragedy of being a lowly crab. But this isn’t really tragedy, is it? I mean it’s absurd to feel sorry for a crab and its potential demise at the pincers of the crazy yellow ants… isn’t it?

You get the picture. The antics of Hopla to “explain” tragedy (or is it drama?) to his bemused spectators certainly make for “a strange time”. But Fisticuffs has its beguiling moments, particularly when the performer demonstrates his consummate skill as a circus aerial acrobat and performs tricks with the rope that command all his strength and courage.

The audience enjoyed it and so did I, although Hopla might have benefited from a more energised and gung-ho participatory audience on this, his opening night at the Cirquest main space.

Our fault. Not his.

‘Fisticuffs’ plays Cirquest  until 11 February.

Reuben Kaye Club Swizzle
Cabaret, Circus, Comedy, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Smokin’ hot

Fringe World review: Club Swizzle ·
The Ice Cream Factory, 4 February ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

While a disused factory might not seem like the obvious venue to convert for a cabaret show, the production and design team of Club Swizzle have managed to recreate the underground atmosphere of a 1930s night-club. Entering the building, one peers through the dimly lit, ruby red haze to discover that the seating seems to be arranged around a bar rather than a stage. The mystery only adds to the glamour.

And it’s warm. As MC Reuben Kaye observes, it’s “a corrugated-iron oven of a venue”, which, though not totally comfortable, completes the transition nicely. It’s also appropriate for a show that is steamy in more senses than one.

For Club Swizzle is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It’s a romp… an R-rated romp. Like its sister show, the hugely popular La Soiree, Club Swizzle is all about variety, and that variety has a distinctly naughty streak (that’s a touch more explicit than its sibling, if my memory serves me correctly).

At the epicentre of this naughtiness is Reuben Kaye, MC. All lashes and brocade, sparkles and cuff-links, Kaye delights in gender fluidity… in more senses than one. This MC’s outrageous wit is the highlight of the show.

Swizzle Boys
Bartenders who shake their drinks in acrobatic ways: the Swizzle Boys. Photo: Prudence Upton.

And that’s saying something because the acts are excellent. The Swizzle Boys (Benjamin Lewis, Simon McClure, Will Underwood and Joren Dawson) are bartenders who somersault and catapult through the air as they shake and stir their cocktails. Their numerous (and much-applauded) appearances are interspersed with all sorts of characters; a roller-skating waitress, a drunken stripper, a cigar-smoking aerialist, a sultry but strangely robotic dancer. The dapper tapper and singer Dandy Wellington was a crowd favourite with his fast moving feet, as was Amy G, whose rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” gives new meaning to the concept of patriotism.

It’s all backed by live jazz band the Unexpected Perks, who keep the pace jumping, whether it’s big-band style with trombones and tuba, or the more sentimental accordion and violin.

While the production was, for the most part, super slick (and not just from various liquids being sprayed carelessly over the punters at the front tables), occasionally it was hard to hear lyrics/lines due to sound distortion.

Because everything about Club Swizzle is pushed to the maximum – from the sound levels to the dirty jokes.

The result? Maximum entertainment.

But leave the kids at home.

 

Club Swizzle plays the Ice Cream Factory until February 25. 

Read Seesaw’s Q&A with Dandy Wellington here.

Pictured top is the outrageously funny Reuben Kaye with the Swizzle Boys. Photo: Hamish McCormick.

syncope
Circus, News, Performing arts, Reviews

An elegant machine

Fringe World review: Syncope by Kinetica ·
St Georges Cathedral, 30 January ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·

Syncope
‘Syncope’ demonstrates the capabilities of the human body as an elegant machine. Photo: Rebecca McMahon

Syncope is an enjoyable mix of contemporary circus and contemporary dance designed specifically to be performed within St George’s Cathedral.

Entering through the main doors of the cathedral, the audience is immediately struck by the incongruous tripod of scaffolding within the ornate Gothic Revival style architecture – a clear indication that a different set of rituals will be observed by Syncope in this religious space. Indeed, this show marks the first time aerial artists have ever performed within the cathedral.

The stars of the show are ten talented artists from professional performance troupe Kinetica, a local circus and performing arts company behind previous Fringe World shows Interplay (2017), Dark Matter (2016) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2015). Within Syncope, their aerial stunts are linked by loosely themed acrobatic interludes exploring the relationship between emotions and physiology.

As a whole, Syncope clearly demonstrates the capabilities of the human body as an elegant machine. This is a good reminder for those of us who can barely balance on one leg – let alone do the splits, upside-down in a handstand, while balancing on top of a pile of similarly contorted human bodies.

In one impressive tableau, two performers float and rotate in seemingly zero gravity while each suspended from the scaffolding by a single wrist. Alternately embracing and pushing away from each other, the performers display a touching tenderness and grace while performing this feat of synchronised strength.

Many scenes in Syncope, such as the two artists weaving in and out of a single suspended hoop, prompt the audience to consider both the physical discipline required to make the stunts seem so effortless, and the intimacy involved in rehearsing and perfecting the performances.

The stunning penultimate piece provides an especially symbolic moment within the church; a lone artist writhes up and down his aerial silks with the shadows of his body projecting onto the high walls. In such a unique venue, it would have been great to see the company push such site-specificity a little further.

Unfortunately, there was limited visibility from the back row and a lot of the floor work was lost on those of us furthest from the front. But it was the spectacular aerial tricks that were most anticipated – and those definitely did not disappoint.

‘Syncope’ runs until 3 February 2018.

Top photo: Rebecca McMahon

Danger Cabaret, El Bizarro
Cabaret, Calendar, Circus, February 18, Performing arts

Fringe World: El Bizarro

14-18 Feb & and 21-25 Feb @ The Gold Digger at Fringe Central ∙
Presented by: Danger Cabaret ∙

WA’s finest freaks; Ringmaster Magnus Danger Magnus, sexy & shocking sideshow duo Circus Carnis, and burlesque bon vivant Vivian Marlowe all return with brand new, jaw-dropping acts for 2018. They are joined by a cavalcade of weird and delightful special guests, including burlesque danger-babe Jacqueline Furey (QLD – last 5 shows), international sideshow royalty Damien Kenny (CAN – first 5 shows), sultry burlesque superstar Vesper White (VIC – first 5 shows), the Queen of Weimar punk kabarett Bernie Dieter (as seen in La Soiree and East End Cabaret – UK – last 5 shows) and reigning Mr Boylesque Australia champ, Karl Kayoss (WA – all shows).

Snap up your tickets quickly folks, because this will sell out!
“Expect to laugh, cheer and have your jaw plummet…a no-holds-barred circus spectacular.” The West Australian
“Sexy and shocking in equal mix…hands down one of the best you will see at Fringe World.” The Perth Project
“Properly bizarre…if you see one sideshow this Perth Fringe, make it El Bizarro.” ★★★★☆ The Music
“A rollicking ride through the greatest elements of the darkest side of sideshow, circus and cabaret…eye candy for the dark soul.” ★★★★☆ Xpress
“A gritty tribute to the power of performance.” The Perth Project
“You’ve got to see it to believe it.” Rotunda Media

More info: https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/el-bizarro-glamour-danger-freaks-fw2018

Email: jasmine@dangercabaret.com

Photo: John Marshall

Calendar, Circus, Comedy, February 18, Performing arts

Fringe World: Flaws & All

19 – 24 February @ The Black Flamingo in the Pleasure Garden ∙
Presented by: Dawn Pascoe ∙

A raw, brave and beautiful circus-comedy about one woman’s flaws and all promises to be a must-see at Fringe World festival 2018. Perth’s own Dawn Pascoe is the beauty and brains behind Natural Wings (Winner of the WA Circus Award at Fringe World 2015 and 2016) and invites audiences to witness exquisite choreography on the ground and high in the air with her Flaws & All show delivering a stunning and quirky combination of aerial dance and physical comedy.

More info: https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/flaws-and-all-fw2018

Tumble Circus: Unsuitable
Calendar, Circus, February 18, Performing arts

Fringe World: Unsuitable

5-17 February @ The Big Top @ The Pleasure Garden ∙
Presented by: Tumble Circus ∙

Belfast’s self-proclaimed ‘circus of the absurd’ returns to Perth  at The Big Top in the Pleasure Garden as part of Fringe World 2018. A unique experience of non-traditional Irish circus specialising in high-skill circus-theatre- comedy, Tumble Circus’ Unsuitable is a satirical show featuring a cast of 5 internationally renowned circus artists from Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Perth, Western Australia.

More info: https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/unsuitable-fw2018