Left - Mason West. Cover - Flip Kammerer and Jeremy Davies. Photos - Rob Blackburn
Anni Davey guest directs this show which is the first in Circus Oz’s proud new acquisition, the gorgeous centenarian Melba Spiegeltent. First off: be warned – it is easy to miss the venue if you don’t have clear street directions as it’s not especially brightly lit up or signposted. It’s near a corner but that corner could do with a sandwich board.
The Blue Show is adults only and the media releases promises danger, sexiness and humour and general outrageous whackiness. The performers were sent away to create their own pieces inspired by ‘magicalness and authenticity’. However, although there were more than a few authentic stuff ups, magic and mystery, seemed sadly lacking. Overall the night was let down by a lack of aesthetic cohesion, especially compared to the successful steam punk look of their last show. The beach side bogan approach is incongruous with the atmosphere of the Melba Spiegeltent. Perhaps if the performers had been costumed in a more retro version of beachside... It just lacks glamour. We understand that this is circus, and it is entirely understandable that the ensemble wants to avoid cliché but why not, given the talent and experience they’ve got on board, emphasise the cabaret side of things so there is some acknowledgement of the venue’s atmosphere? Or else the team could go right out to the stratosphere in deconstructing expectations entirely. But when a show eschews glamour or narrative then you really want technical perfection.
Standouts included the early pole work routine where the male performer’s interaction with the pole became wild and unpredictable. Stunning. The bubble wrap piece near the end of the second half is a good laugh and a nice surprise. Unfortunately, unless you are in the front row it is hard to see what’s going on; the stage needs to be higher – whether that is possible or not remains to be seen but visibility needs to be taken into account. The ensemble juggling act was a delight – in fact the show worked best with everyone together or with more performers rather than fewer. The human pyramid was impressive and exciting where you can see the team’s mutual trust and respective strengths at work.
One of the best bits was the near-nude turn by the delectable Sarah Ward who embodies her magnificent self with natural pride, adding an outré touch to a whistling routine. Otherwise the whole show was strangely asexual, the promised erotic element lacking. In their determination not to titillate the audience or objectify themselves it seems that something was lost. The charismatic Flip Kammerer assumes the character of a pregnant bogan sheila with a foul mouth playing against ‘partner’ Tyrone, for my money, it just didn’t work, although physically she’s as impressive as ever.
The Blue Show didn’t come across as bent or twisted or especially rude to me; in fact this old perve was disappointed. Overall you got the sense that the performers were enjoying sharing their acts but without a true theme or linking narrative the show seemed almost, just very slightly, self-indulgent and thrown together, as though the team were just so excited to get into the Melba Spiegeltent they couldn’t wait and possibly weren’t quite ready. There was little they’d not done before. For a show that’s part of Midsumma where was the gay abandon?
Circus Oz presents
THE BLUE SHOW
Venue: Circus Oz Melba Spiegeltent, Corner of Waterfront Way and Docklands Drive, Docklands
Dates: January 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 29, 30; February 4, 5 and 6, 2011
Tickets: Adults $38.00, Concession $30, Groups over 8 (adults) $28
Bookings: Midsumma www.midsumma.org.au | Hares & Hyenas 63 Johnston St Fitzroy 03 9495 6589
Suitable for ages 18 and over. This show contains nudity and some coarse language.