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Swinging cowboys

Fringe World review: Head First Acrobats, Railed ·
The West Australian Spiegeltent, February 2 ·
Review by Steven Cohen ·

The circus is in town and shamelessly clowning around in all its slapstick acrobatic glory.

Following the success of their breakthrough performance at last year’s Fringe, Melbourne-based Head First Acrobats return with Railed, this time co-opting the Western genre in a high-octane, frenzied festival of comedy and gymnastics.

But don’t expect the non-abrasive gentility of Cirque du Soleil. Railed is a hyper-cheerful, puerile comedic performance. Combining clown gags with highly specialist acrobatic skills, Callan Harris, Thomas Gorham, Adam O’Connor-McMahon and Harley Timmermans take us on a gay-themed journey, from bank heists to shoots out and everything in between.

The homo-erotic humour is important.  It subverts the show, providing a sentimental education. But unlike the novel of the same name, Railed is upbeat and wholly unironic, lampooning queer culture with silent one-liners spread across a quadrant formed by four men zinged high up in acrobatic manoeuvres. Combined with the character acting, the show was highly entertaining, whipping the full  full house into a frenzy.

Timmermans and O’Connor-McMahon provided the comic relief with an uncouth yet hilarious portrayal of a unicorn pleasuring a horse.  The charismatic and charming Harris gave a stand-out performance, balancing uncannily upon a stack of chairs, whilst Thomas seemingly suspended gravity in his Cyr wheel.

The soundtrack to this off-off-Western was co-opted perfectly, creating peak emotional mood and sensory impact.

The only drawback to the show was that it was sold out! The venue, while cute and circusy, was not large enough to hold the thousand or so patrons on a hot summer’s night.

But don’t let that detract: the circus boys were a delight, inducing visceral thrills and belly laughs aplenty.  Highly recommended.

Railed is playing at The West Australian Spiegeltent until February 10.

Caption top: Blazing acrobats – Head First pack out the Spiegeltent.

Photograph: Naomi Reed Photography

 

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