Borrowing from burlesque, circus, vaudeville, and the travelling freak shows, EMPIRE is the latest instalment from Spiegelworld.
In case you haven’t experienced the Spiegeltent before, it is an intimate ring-side circus tent with theatre-in-the-round seating and a small round platform in the middle where daring acts of strength, skill, flexibility, comedy, and music fuse together for an exciting night that is fun and frivolous, and just a little bit naughty… ok, a LOT naughty.
But it’s not all about tantalising the audience with flesh (although it does that quite well), the performers are talented acrobats, circus performers, and musicians.
The night’s hosts were naughty, bawdy husband and wife team, Oscar the Impresario (Matthew Morgan) and Fanny, the Last Remaining Showgirl (Heidi Brucker), who kept the night a-rollin. What they could do with a banana divided audiences; it was either the funniest or the grossest thing you’ve ever seen.
Other acts included an amazing feat of concentration and balance with sticks and a feather by 3D Graffiti Guy (Memet Bilgin). This particular act has been doing the rounds on youtube lately by a Chinese woman and is truly mesmerising. Then the Addis Brothers from Ethiopia astounded us with foot juggler Black Flintstone, who threw around Big Mac Boy like a hacky-sac.
There were also acrobatic and balancing acts; Polka Dot Woman and Blue Tarpoleon (Mariia Beisembetova and Denis Petaev) with a unique balancing act on two wheels, an Adagio and Hand-to-Hand act with Lime Green Lady and Carrot Man (Ludivine Furnon and Nicolas Besnard), and a delightfully raunchy Banquine trio – The Gorilla Girls (Trio Bingo) whose costumes looked like they were sponsored by Bras & Things – not that anyone minded.
And not to forget the aptly named Naked Asian Dude Wearing Pigtails (Yasuaki Yoshikawa) with the German/Cyr Wheel, as the programme points out is also known as the rounded square, has won numerous awards for being the most important invention in all of human history. There wasn’t much left to improve on the wheel itself, so we put a dude inside it instead.
But the showstopper was the beautiful opening act of the Girl in The Bubble (Elena Lev-Bakkar) as she contorts her body in a large opalesque bubble suspended above the stage.
The acts were also supported by a great soundtrack performed by rag-tag duo, guitarist Moondog (John Shannon) and vocalist Miss Purple (Casey Jamerson). Their rendition of Gotye’s “Smoke and Mirrors” was particularly memorable.
For an outrageous ninety minutes, go and see EMPIRE, a variety show that tantalises, teases, thrills, and excites. After sold-out seasons in New York, Sydney and Melbourne, EMPIRE is now playing the Spiegeltent in Brisbane for a five week season until 30 June.
Just a hint, if you’re not into audience participation, don’t get the VIP ring-side seats.