That’s the loose premise behind Stunt Lounge, performed by five 20-somethings who are recent graduates from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.
It presents an interesting set of equipment to work with – including the comfy couch featured on their promotional material, the fight over which is one of the highlights of the show – and gives them a chance to explore the complex blend of rivalry and teamwork that young people often share.
So a juggling routine becomes a percussion throw-down; a nail bed become an object of dare; a pair of slippers inspires an acrobatic floor routine – and all set to a sublime indie sound track that ranges from New Orleans blues to modern folk.
The chemistry between the performers is palpable and the teamwork is of the highest order – as it must be when so much trust is required and your safety is at stake – and I hope the younger members of the audience felt the same message that I did: that you can perform amazing feats with normal-looking bodies, not painfully ripped with muscles or overly adorned with piercings and ink, and without the need to wear fluoro spandex.
I particularly loved the way that learning and failure were acceptable norms; when a particularly tricky stunt didn’t come off, it was simply tried again – and again if need be – until it worked. The audience responded and supported them every time, which adds a wonderful rapport. Respect.
With any circus show, the drama of the high-octane dare-devilry is highlighted by calmer, quieter moments of precision performance and artistry, and this show is no different – although there were a few moments when the children around me started fidgeting and I wondered if the “arty” element hadn’t outstayed its welcome.
A short, sweet sequence of boy meets girl through a hula hoop is delightful, while a see-saw that is casually hanging around the front room produces the most fascinating and original acrobatic routine. But the overly complex opening still has me confused and the exit routine was a little weak.
Australia is certainly blessed to have the Flying Fruit Fly Circus training up our next generation of circus performers, and this troupe look well on their way to exciting careers.
However, I think the promotional material does them no favours by claiming “No Boundaries. No Limits.” and by asserting (online) that “these talented young graduates have advanced through the ranks to the top of their game”.
Stunt Lounge marks the professional debut for this highly talented group and it’s a extremely entertaining, enjoyable show – especially perfect during the school holidays.
But it naturally has its limits and boundaries and I certainly hope – for the performers’ sake – that they have not yet reached the top of their game.
Melbourne International Comedy Festival in association with Arts Centre Melbourne proudly presents
Director Darcy Grant
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio | 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
Dates: 30 Mar – 9 Apr 2016
Tickets: $28.50 – $100