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Theatre Review by Melynda von Wayward
What: Circa – S
Where: Gasworks Arts Park – Moving Parts season 2014
Created by: Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble
Performed by: Nathan Boyle, Jessica Connell, Casey Douglas, Daniel O’Brien, Brittannie Portelli, Kimberley Rossi and Duncan West
Having its beginnings in the legacy of Brisbane’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus, Circa has, in my opinion, become THE greatest contemporary Circus company in the southern hemisphere. Under the ever-watchful and creative eye of Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz, since 2006 the company has become a powerhouse of high-quality contemporary Circus shows, rivalling companies like Circus Oz and Acrobat for their innovation, skill level and genre-bending themes. With show titles like ‘S’, ‘Beyond’, ‘Wunderkammer’ and ‘Opus’ the various Circa ensembles have toured to some 28 countries across six continents, undoubtedly wowing millions of audience members along the way, while at the same time stretching the practice and perceptions of contemporary Circus as we know it.
Now Circus is a ‘tricky’ business (pun intended), generally consisting of a series of tricks, either set to a storyline or just performed for the sheer thrill that they bring to the audience. But, like the letter it is seeking to pay homage to, S is so incredibly smooth that the these ‘tricks’, performed by 7 highly skilled acrobats, blend so seamlessly into one another in an almost spiritual way, that one would almost think they were not at a circus at all – rather at a meditation retreat.
However Circa is a Circus, and granted there are no cliché clowns or juggling routines to keep the audience entertained, there is however something much more sophisticated - there is an absolute transcendence of circus - something so special that it can only be experienced to be understood. By taking the skills laid out in traditional circus, and by pushing the boundaries of what the human body and creative mind can do, this Circa ensemble have created one of the most mesmerising circus shows that I have ever seen.
S is performed effortlessly by a tight and intimate ensemble, and it is obvious that the trust levels here abound. On this note I must congratulate Yaron Lifschitz for his selection of performers for his Circa Ensembles – this man knows great talent and potential when he sees it! And while it is clear that all of the acrobats have an abundance of talent, it was the women in the ensemble that really stood out for me.
Jessica Connell is brilliant and her strength and skills know no bounds; this woman alone would be worth going to see a Circa show for. Although not a large woman, none of the S women are, she not only manages to carry twice to three times her weight, gracefully I might add, but she has a hula hooping routine that every hooper in the western world should be jealous of. I mean this act is seriously rave worthy.
Brittannie Portelli is also impressive with her feats of strength and acrobatics. A beautiful bundle of muscle, she is thrown around and flips as if she is made out of paper. Kimberley Rossi on the other hand shows us just how the human body can be twisted and contorted to create the most amazing shapes. This incredibly lithe woman, with her cheeky smile, brought a nice element of humour to the show.
With bowls of water, microphones, jaw hangs, aerials, hula hooping and an abundance of acrobatics and balances, S is part dance, part circus and part perfection – this really is the Circus of the Gods.
5 Stars
Circa - S won the Helpmann Award for Best Visual or Physical Theatre Production in 2013