Left - Kaleb Hawkins
This is a student showcase from NICA (National Institute of Circus Arts) so it isn’t fair to compare these graduates to long established performers. Although the physical skills are all there, confidence, verve and stage presence in many of the young performers was missing. No doubt most of them will go on to develop their performance chops. There are some nice moments of circus, in particular the aerial routines. Two girls on a trapeze made a lovely tableau showing the impressive strength and confidence in each other they have developed. The ribbons, ropes, trapeze and hammocks were all stylishly executed. There were welcome little surprises along the way including a nice turn at mini golf by a clown and one very supportive audience member.
The show opened patchily – the group just has not gone far enough with the performance aspects or sense of story involved. The acrobats lack the experience to make what they’re doing seem smooth work and their opening night nerves showed. Given that the young performers have (presumably) been working on their circus skills rather than their stage skills, it seems harsh to critique the show as such, but it most certainly needs tightening up overall. They were just beginning to warm up when it was time for interval. The second half though, offered an amazing display of rope twirling, carried off very well by one young man who was then joined by another, with much aplomb. This was a highlight. Some of the balancing routines were inspiring. You can’t help appreciating the strength involved when acrobats are balancing on a chair, on a table, supporting their weight, or that of another, with only one hand.
Part of the problem is the need to find a way for such a large number of performers, 21 or so, to work together as a coherent group whilst creating an ensemble feel. There is a sweet sort of mood permeating the show but what you want with circus is a strong sense of daring. We All Fall Down apparently lacks a strong enough conceptual basis to hang together well. The idea of exploring play might be a bit vague as a starting premise and the whole amounted to a pleasant but ‘nothing new’ type of work. There were attempts to move the audience with some expressions of innocence and whimsy but again, performance skills were patchy. The live music came across as a bit raw. The drumming worked well with the dives through the standing hoops at the end (a routine that can look so beautiful) but sadly morale took something of a dive when the acrobats kept knocking down the rings. They were all good at getting back in the saddle but it felt as though the end of the show came as a relief.
We All Fall Down lacks finesse; perhaps the cast was just not quite ready; a few nights into the season will no probably prove a very different experience for an audience. There is, however, no doubting the cast’s combined prowess as acrobats.
National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) presents
We All Fall Down
Venue: NICA National Circus Centre, Green Street Prahran
Dates: 15 – 26 June 2010
Tickets: $22 adult | $20 conc | $14 child | $55 family (2 adults + 2 children)