Fringe Circus

Mary Brennan

Closer by Circa

Underbelly, George Square

Four Stars

Joli Yvann:Imbalance

Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows

Four Stars


Underbelly’s Circus Hub

Three Stars

CIRCA alert! The name – Closer – is not to be confused with Close Up, last year’s bravura display of acrobatic wit and daring. This new mix of aerial gambits, balances, brinkmanship and virtuoso skills is like an open love letter to the rapport the performers have with each other, with their chosen equipment, and with us.

On-stage, five chairs are waiting for two bare-chested men and three women (in teensy black leotards flashed with transparent mesh) to arrive and embrace the risks implicit in taking traditional genres to new heights. When Lauren Herley slithers to the top of a dangling rope, presses her cheek against its surface, coils it round her limbs – almost as if it were snakily alive – there’s an affectionate-bordering-on-the-erotic charge to her advances, before whoosh! a sudden dive unravels the liaison.

There’s a constant flow of hugs between the performers too. Cheeky, snuggling hugs that sometimes bounce apart, sending bodies into rebounding back flips, or see limbs jigsaw into a cat’s cradle of supports and balances where two become three, or more, close-knit forms. Love, it seems, is in the air – it’s on the soundtrack, and in the mimed lyrics delivered by Jarred Dewey as he hangs, head over heels from a trapeze. The others – Lisa Goldsworthy, in her swirl of shimmering hula hoops, Kimberley O’Brien caught, with elastic grace, between two hanging straps and Daniel O’Brien trusting to his own strength in white-knuckle handstands - are likewise unfazed by the intimate proximity of the audience. No hype, no flim-flam, no hi-tech stage machinery. Just more of what we love about Circa: prowess and humanity, drawing us in... Closer.

Runs to August 29

THE TIPPING points that are confronted so strikingly in Imbalance are not confined to the shared dance moves and acrobatics of Jan Patzke and Olivia Quayle of Joli Yvann. Those moments when things suddenly shift out of sync, fragmenting a well-matched partnership, come about because this couple are so physically and emotionally allied to their phones and laptops, they no longer connect with each other. Sitting at either end of a kitchen table – easily within arm’s reach – the only touching that takes place is on their respective keyboards. It’s a scenario that encapsulates how the digital/virtual realm exerts more control over our lives – at work, at home, at leisure – than the real, flesh and blood relationships we take for granted or ignore. Choreographer Jonathan Lunn has joined the Joli Yvann creative team, deftly integrating dance where the tension-ed tug of counterbalances at floor level reflects the stresses and strains between the couple. Heightens the sense that a lurking instability threatens acrobatic moves where he has to be the steady support to her precarious balances. Perhaps what stings most in this perceptive, superbly delivered show is the casual, uncaring disloyalty that creeps in – sly glances at phones, even at times of re-established intimacy. Does it end happily? Switch off your phones and go see for yourself in real time, among real people!

Runs to August 22

THINK B-movie sci-fi horrors, couple that up with high-powered acrobatics, a brilliant stumble of slapstick and a shimmy of burlesque – the resulting comedy-cocktail is Elixir, from the Melbourne-based Head First Acrobats. Some audience members might not care about the very real flair and panache shown on trapeze, cyr wheel, or unsupported ladder when the three lads get their tops off... But this slice of pecs appeal is just one of the ways these affable, talented performers keep our eyes – and our expectations – on what might go down next. There’s a story-line, just. Clutzy scientists, bodged experiments. Hey – is that a break-dancing zombie? Huge fun, and with seriously strong circus skills running through the goofing about.

Runs to August 22