Cheeky, awe-inspiring, and just plain fun, Circa goes Beyond in their new production, which premiered at the Brisbane Powerhouse on 2 May.
Inspired by Alice in Wonderland and Charles Darwin, Beyond is a surreal circus where the performers more animalistic urges are explored.
This theme ran through the show, with some performers donning over-sized rabbit heads and bear suits, which were sometimes taken off in front of the audience to bare the human beneath.
Rather than the high-gloss circus of a Cirque du Soleil, Beyond is purposely rough around the edges, resulting in a more relaxed and intimate performance. The stripped-back set (designed by Yaron Lifschitz, Jason Organ, and Libby McDonnell) includes three platforms with ceiling high poles in front of a lush red curtain and various circus apparatus hidden until needed.
The show’s creator Yaron Lifschitz, along with the seven circus performers, developed a show that combined various circus arts, including aerial performances, group balancing acts, and the Chinese pole, with clowning and emotive physical theatre. The result was a show which was not only breath-taking, but also tickled the funny bone and warmed the heart.
Each of the seven performers showcased their individual specialisation and personality. Some acts were wild and frenetic, while others were more languid and dream-like. An engaging soundtrack, using a mixture of show tunes, ballads, and electronic music, supported each segment.
Bridie Hooper had the audience cringing with discomfort and amazement at the positions her body assumed; her aerial act was just mesmerising.
There’s always an inherent risk of audience participation when choosing seats at the cabaret tables down the front. One audience member discovered this when she was co-opted into helping Gerramy Marsden with his tennis racket routine. This slightly naughty but totally hilarious act was a highlight of the evening and had the audience in stitches. His rola bola (block and cylinder balancing act) was the other high-light, showing that this well-rounded performer is not only funny, but also an extremely talented circus performer.
Skip Walker-Milne was just adorable in the over-sized bear suit, using his height to great comedic effect, all the while, skilfully manoeuvring around the Chinese poles.
Rudi Mineur, the senior member of the team, had perhaps the most buff body of all, and his nimbleness and strength was a source of constant amazement.
Kathryn O’Keeffe’s blindfolded balancing act kept us on the edge of our seats and Paul O’Keeffe’s clowning acrobatics were shockingly funny. He threw himself around the stage like a rag doll, on-top of a large yoga ball, a trapeze swing, and even other cast members.
Billie Wilson-Coffey’s, her eyes fixed on the audience, was unnerving as she performed her tricks, allowing herself to be man-handled by her team members without blinking an eye. Many of the tricks demanded mutual trust between the performers. I use the terms ‘tricks’ loosely as they really are highly skilled feats of strength, flexibility, and co-operation.
This man-made contemporary circus is full of fun, stunning tricks, and lots of heart. Based on the audible gasps from the audience during the show, I’d give Circa’s Beyond a Wow Factor rating of 5!
Beyond is playing at the Powerhouse Theatre until 11th May, with cabaret seating available.