Fringe Circus

Mary Brennan

Water on Mars

Assembly Roxy

Five Stars


Assembly George Square

Four Stars

Perhaps Hope

Underbelly Circus Hub on the Meadows

Two Stars

THINK Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, rather than the Red Planet, and you’re on track with Water on Mars, and the trio who call themselves Plastic Boom: mischievous-cool dudes who deliver virtuoso juggling with a rock’n’roll swagger. But maybe keep a hold of the cosmic reference as well. It’ll come into play when Patrik Elmnert, Tony Pezzo and Wes Peden launch flying objects and keep them spinning busily in space while gravity attempts to take the rainbow clubs, or gold balls, off their hands. As for that water... Let’s just say it makes an entertaining splash.

You know in advance, of course, that the skills levels on- stage are going to be high – else the iconic Gandini Juggling wouldn’t have associated themselves with the production. What only surfaces in action, however, is the subversive dimension that increasingly creeps into the routine throws and catches. It’s not just the interventions by cheekily poaching hands, niftily disrupting and re-ordering the orbital flow of things, that dazzles and delights.It’s also the trio’s appetite for dicing with improbability – at one point altering the aerodynamics of individual skittles by Sellotaping them together into awkward clusters before whizzing them into airy circuits. This gleeful "what if ..." derring do turns the stage into a big lads’ den, awash with the fall-out of props that got away in the pursuit of new gambits. At the heart of this seeming chaos, however, there is beauty, elegance and control – all at the fingertips of six very talented hands.

Run ends August 14

EVER since animal acts were edged out of the circus ring, the burden of delivering thrills – tho’ hopefully not spills – has fallen on the shoulders of acrobats, on aerialists and contortionists. With Australian company Casus, you get all the gasp-inducing prowess you could hope for, but you also get something else: an attempt to make the scary balances, the elegant trapeze work, the acrobatic flips and somersaults take on a mood, or a even a semi-narrative meaning. There is no particular clue as to why this show is called Driftwood – but it does open with the two men and three women of the ensemble drifting onto the compact Spiegeltent stage, like aimless strangers, suddenly drawn together. And as the coats, and other layers come off – until, by the end, costumes are brief enough to pass for beach wear on a paradise island – that initial click of connection spirals into close-knit collaborations between physical strength and graceful movement. And though you know it takes effort, as well as focussed skills to achieve artistry in moments of risk on trapeze, or some-one else’s shoulders, the Casus performers make no great show of how hard it is on muscles or minds. They work, instead, to take circus out of the old sand and sawdust formats and into a kind of dream-scape full of charm.

Runs until August 28

BALANCE is the core impulse behind Perhaps Hope, the first work by Company Here and Now, a recent addition to the Australian circus scene.They say, at the start, that they wanted to make a piece about climate change where acrobatic balances become metaphors for global balance in the environment. In theory, this ticks a lot of boxes, and for sure – individually and together – Rockie Stone and Vincent van Berkel have the skills to sustain feats on the verge of imminent tipping points... and if the narrow necks of beer bottles are a danger to balancing feet, they’re a danger to marine life when tossed into oceans. Less successful as a prop is the large, heavy curve of wood that, unlike an everyday teeter board, takes constant heft to get it rocking and doesn’t really put sufficient spring in the step for high-flying acrobatic take-offs. A pity, because Here and Now have interesting ideas and a will to make us think of balances beyond the circus tent.

Runs until August 22