Circus Works is a surreal and slightly silly showcase of circus acts comprising mostly home-grown performers. I had the good fortune to see two of the four shows on offer - Circus Trick Tease and Parasouls. I'd highly recommend you get along and see either one, or preferably both.
Circus Trick Tease
This trio begin their hilarious, sexually charged and slightly deranged routine before the audience were even in their seats. They have the persona of a bunch of misfits who have been travelling together for a long time and have gone slightly mad with cabin fever but nevertheless all they have is each other.
Collecting the audience's tickets at the door, Malia flashes us a plastic smile through too much lipstick and snaps sweetly at us to take our seats before handing us off to Farhad, a polite Iranian man with a winning smile who guides us to our seats while engaging us in unintelligible conversation in his native language. Once in our seats we watch as Malia and Farhad frantically get the audience organised, bickering with each other and at the self-absorbed but slightly neurotic strong-man whose silhouette we can see as he prepares behind the stage. It's a totally bizarre but brilliant way to start a show that only gets weirder.
Without spoiling the show, I'll simply say that the three performers are incredibly talented, have great comic timing and bounce quite literally off each other's energy. You can expect acrobatics, balancing tricks, cabaret numbers, juggling, balloon animals, dance routines and the dreaded moments of audience participation, all delivered with a winning combination of wit, histrionics, lowbrow humour and a toe-tapping soundtrack.
From start to finish and even afterwards, Circus Trick Tease is non-stop jaunty and jaw-dropping fun. Congratulations to Malia Walsh, Farhad Ahadi and Shannon Mcgurgan for an inspired concept and a dazzling performance. Special mention must go to Mcgurgan who is fairly bursting with ironic bravado and perfectly channels the iconic strong-man of the old-timey melodramas, moustache and all.
Setting a decidedly different tone, Parasouls is a frivolous but feisty performance featuring five young women who playfully but pointedly have things to say about femininity. To use restaurant parlance, it is more of a circus-inspired show - it is first about telling a story and sharing an experience, but the story and the experience are woven with the medium of circus.
Through a series of interconnecting vignettes, Pippin Aitken, Lauren Sheperd, Lilikoi Kaos, Nyree Camden and Alex Mizzen show off their graceful choreography and impressive acrobatic ability, all the while with quirky lighting highlighting a strong and sinister undertone.
Nyree Camden stands out as Miss Strawberry Siren with her good looks and peculiar but hypnotic brand of Burlesque tease. This seductive sweetness is counterbalanced by her fiery red-headed co-star, who in one scene appears in a strait jacket and tied up in chains. It is like Houdini without the water, and not only does she escape but she does so with striking acrobatic precision and while performing with a hula-hoop, all set to a thumping remix of memorable madhouse anthem 'They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-haa'. A fascinating and disquieting spectacle.
Another highlight was the scene which saw a handy housewife hammering nails into her nose to the strains of the Andrews Sisters, which led into a sequence involving burning rubber gloves and running around in a carefully choreographed fire-twirling finale.
The ladies make great use of music, props and visuals to tell a story that's funny, endearing, and if I dare to pull out that old performance trope - challenging and confronting. I will confess I did not understand all the symbolism, and perhaps as part of the male hegemony I wasn't expected or even supposed to. But the audience whooped with wild applause and so will you.
Theatre Works presents
Circus Trick Tease | 7.30pm Wed 2 - Sat 5 Dec & 2.00pm Sat 5 Dec, 2009
Parasouls | 9.00pm Wed 2 - Sat 5 Dec & 3.30pm Sat 5 Dec, 2009
Freefall (Gravity & Other Myths) | 7.30pm Wed 9 - Sat 12 Dec & 2.00pm Sat 12th Dec, 2009
DownPour (A4 Circus Ensemble) | 9.00pm Wed 9 - Sat 12 Dec & 3.30pm Sat 12 Dec, 2009
Venue: Theatre Works | 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Bookings: 9534 3388