Rhapsody | NICALeft - Lewis West. Cover - Sophie Cunningham. Photo - Christian Blanchard


Each year, NICA final year artists work with a guest director to create a new circus show. This year it’s Sally Richardson, award-winning director/creator/producer/writer. Sally is the recipient of a Creative Fellowship by the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts, which supported her 2008 residency with NICA to create Rhapsody.

If you haven’t been to NICA, seen them perform, or heard of the company before, neither had I until last night. But truly, this company is the future of circus. The performers are world class. Matt Anderson, Emma Avery, Chiara Boardman, Catherine Clarke, Sophie Cunningham, Rebecca Evans, Kaleb Hawkins, Brittany Mercer, Shaun Plumtree, Juan Rueda, Isaac Saleh, Ivan Smith, Lewis West, Tayo Wilson, Rebekah Worrall and Thomas Worrell – look out for their names because these ‘students’ can flip, swing, hang, fly, trapeze, move and contort their bodies in ways you have never seen. Rhapsody is worth seeing for the skill of these performers alone, who are certainly comparable to those in any Cirque Du Soleil production though other aspects of the show seemed lacking.

The names involved in this production are huge, experienced talented creatives – J. David Franzke (Helpmann Award winner and composer for the feature film Rogue), Leon Krasenstein (designer for the Australian Ballet and Opera), Holly Rollins (aerialist for Cirque Du Soleil’s Quidam and La Nouba) and others – and it showed. The design, choreography, music and multi-media component was first class.

Whilst groundbreaking in some ways, the show seemed more like traditional circus in other ways – trick after trick after trick with something mildly resembling ‘a clown act’ in between. There did seem to be the attempt at some kind of story or narrative, but it was confusing and mostly irrelevant. The preview blurb states Rhapsody is a “contemporary take on the myth of Narcissus; the boy who fell in love with his own reflection.” If I hadn’t read that, I would hardly have known it.

The narrative was thin, the dynamic or momentum of the piece was almost non-existent. There was some attempt to make us care for the characters, and make us feel for particular moments in the piece, but it was hard to connect when the context was so ambiguous. The sheer talent, enthusiasm and energy of the performers drives the show, as it should. The company is certainly worth supporting.

Go see it!

The National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) presents

Venue: NICA National Circus Centre | Green Street, Prahran
Dates: December 2 – 13
Times: Dec 2 - 6 & 9 -13, 8pm; Dec 4, 6, 11, 13, 1.30pm
Tickets: Adults $27 | Concession $20 | Preview/Matinee $15 | Child (3-15) $15 | Family $72
Bookings: easytix.com.au
Enquiries: NICA (03) 9214 6975 | www.nica.com.au  

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