A circus that means something

Those who are lucky, and travel quickly through life, find the 30-something time a moment for pause and question about what lies ahead.

Those who are lucky, and travel quickly through life, find the 30-something time a moment for pause and question about what lies ahead.

The ‘Who am I?, What am I doing here? Where have I come from?’ questions are not just asked by actors, but just about the whole planet at this 30-something stage. But, the scary one seems to be ‘Where am I going to?’.

And it is this time where life, it appears, ‘hangs in the balance’. The ever-swinging trapeze of, Decision.

Life’s A Circus is the brainchild of Anthony Costanzo. It has been entered in the prestigious Pratt Prize twice and been a finalist both times. Spawned from the days of Anthony’s world tour with Cats, Life’s A Circus gives voice to his observations in hotel rooms, coffee shops, airports – basically, anywhere he saw his tour mates, in and out of their lycra pussy pants.

Show tour fraternities become incredibly inward-looking microcosms and this is at the core of Costanzo’s tale with book by Peter Fitzpatrick. We get to be the microscope.

His music takes a gentle pop music theatre approach and serves this story superbly. The myriad of musical lines that you will hear in the show’s backing have all been played by Costanzo and cascade through every musical moment – there are very few moments that are not.

Enough said – just go and see it.

Chelsea Plumley (Vivien) delivers exactly what we have come to expect from her consummate ability: exquisite choices, one after the other. I know it has been written before, but it is a nonsense that this artist is not a national, if not, international name. To breathe the same air as ‘Plumley on fire’ is to breathe in the colours of life. True inspiration. If you are not crying at the end of Fly Away, a trip to a neurosurgeon could be order.

Glen Hogstrom (David) has been on too many of our stages as a chorus/bit part player. Hopefully, with this deeply sensitive but bloody masculine portrayal of troubled and wayward, David, Hogstrom will be taken more seriously. The almost-back-to-back renderings of ‘He Loves Me Not’ and ‘So Much More Than This’ let us know the calibre of artist we are dealing with. Detailed, subtle, bloody funny work.

Enter the younger ‘meat’ of the piece: Cameron MacDonald (Alex). The actor tackling ‘Alex’ has a job ahead of him. A complex character arc and a lot of maths “What the character actually knows, what the character doesn’t, what the character can’t know”. It takes control to not telegraph the data that the actor inevitably does know. MacDonald makes the whole thing look like a walk in the park, sings like a dream and anyone, man or woman, will just want to take him home and look after him. ‘When I look Into Your Eyes’ will remain in the theatrical scrapbook of my mind for many years to come.

Kris Stewart’s deft direction cuts to the core of the story and we move swiftly from key point to key point. The audience is not under-estimated here. The welding of four adorable circus artistes to the story allow us to exhale and to laugh at ourselves. Lucy Birkinshaw’s lighting was a master-stroke (when you go see it, just count how few lamps are actually there) – talk about necessity and invention!

There are too many finale numbers – the story doesn’t know when it’s finished – there are two clear moments for an interval (and it needs it – WE need it), but right now, I am all about celebrating the latest addition to the Australian Music Theatre alumni. And what a fitting member it is.

Finally, I must say that Aaron Joyner’s MAGNORMOS has truly ‘arrived’ with this production. I would be happy to see it anywhere in the world.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to get down the Theatreworks and enjoy a night that will make you bloody proud about what we do here in our own backyard.

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