CircaLeft – Emma McGovern. Photo – Justin Nicholas.

, Brisbane's extraordinarily accomplished troupe of acrobats, is getting rave reviews for their shows and fulsome praise from critics. Artistic Director of the CIRCA ensemble (this show is eponymously named), Yaron Lifschitz, maintains that as a vehicle of communication the human body is the most expressive and magnificent of all, a sentiment which underlies all that this production offers. It offers much: the performers are astonishingly supple and strong, making themselves look like something almost other than human in their contortions and movements. The show comprises a set of routines to music and song, some segue into one another, others remain discrete.

Eschewing props, fantastic sets or glittering costumes, CIRCA leaves no room for distraction and the result is thrilling and intense. Six performers hurl themselves at the stage and each other, topple, dance, leap, tumble, stretch and dive. The risks they seem to take and the amount of trust they have in each other is breathtaking and wondrous. They form themselves into weird and marvelous hybrid creatures, sometimes using two bodies, sometimes three, four or more; one minute a small ball of fury is hurtling across the stage and through a human hoop to land nearly on its head, the next a prolonged contortion leaves you wondering just how a human form can be made to do such a thing. More than acrobatics, other than dance, heart-thudding and moving, the routines are playful, erotic, madcap, comical and profound, dealing with power struggles or whimsy, connection or conflict, loneliness or joy. The music is an eclectic bunch of scores and songs (including Leonard Cohen's Take This Waltz which formed the backdrop to a winning, evocative aerial routine), providing changes of tone and scope for a wide range of emotion. And here is the show's strength, although there isn't a single overarching narrative, it creates a set of impressions, the total achieving the effect of dance with the sensationalism of circus. 

There was only one routine that left me less than awed, that of a mismatched couple exploring domination, her in a pair of red stilettos; I wasn't convinced of the power play here; it seemed somewhat gratuitous as the dynamic between the couple was obscure. Maybe that was the point? Regardless, CIRCA received a standing ovation on opening night at the Malthouse.

A guaranteed crowd pleaser for sure but much more than that. Go and see it, you will delight, laugh and gasp.

Malthouse Theatre presents
A Circa Production

Created by Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble

Venue: Merlyn Theatre | The Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC
Dates: May 29 – June 10, 2012

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