Back in May this year, Gasworks Arts Parks held its inaugural Circus Showdown, pitting eleven top circus acts against each other over three nights. The debut show Knock Off from the three-man team called Three High Acrobatics was the winning performance, so you know it's going to be good.
But it's not just brilliant juggling, acrobatics, strength, balance and slap stick stuff that makes this a great show, it's the brains behind the brawn. Dressed in tradie workgear, the whole show is a parody of Australia's current obsession with home renovation and garden shows. Within that there are a mass of other, smaller parodies, from the Ten Top Tips for Creating A Successful Circus Show to mocking their own segueways between acts to a brilliant homoerotic send-up of the cowboy bromance Brokeback Mountain. Comparisons with Tap Dogs have been bandied about but, quite frankly, it doesn't do justice to the range of skills these three display (although their send-up of a boy-band dance routine is alarmingly accurate and quite brilliant).
Mixing fast-paced tumbling turns with slower technical work (including the most interesting use of a gym rope I've seen since I was 11) the NICA-trained trio - trapeze artist Sam Aldham, former stunt man Taka Seki and fire spinner Chris Carlos - also break up the show with a number of solo displays in their own fields of excellence. Plus, they're genuinely funny. Throw into the mix some innovative use of props, heaps of self mockery and a horde of great Aussie music and, well, the trio proves that their Ten Top Tips really work. So they chuck in an 11th just to be on the safe side.
It's truly hard to find a fault. There are odd occasions when the juggler drops the hammer (I said the props were good) or misses the mat, or a balance doesn't quite come off, but the unflappable master craftsmen just get back up and do it again - and it actually makes you appreciate the show a bit more for being reminded that they're working at the edge and pushing themselves all the time to achieve these seemingly effortless feats.
Three High Acrobatics & Gasworks Arts Park presents
With Gasworks Arts Park
Dates: 2 to 6 October 2012
Time: Tue to Thu at 7.30pm, Fri at 9pm, Sat at 4pm & 7.30pm
Venue: Gasworks Theatre
Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au or phone 03 9660 9666