I really don't know why I bother going along to these circus things; the physical excellence on stage always leaves me feeling like an uncoordinated slob. A complete oaf. A kind of knuckle-dragging, sloping forehead, slack-jawed, monosyllabic-grunting primitive. They don't just leave me feeling like I've just emerged from the primordial soup, they make me feel like I AM the primordial soup. Thanks, guys, thanks a bunch.
On the upside, Cirque Adrenaline really does live up to its name. It's a great big shiny production and clearly no expense has been spared. The sound and lights are indeed sensational and aid in ramping up the excitement, but when you get down to it, its the skill of those humans tumbling, twirling, balancing or flying through the air (sometimes all at the same time) that really gets the heart racing. There are no safety harnesses or nets. There is the very real possibility that a stunt may not go according to plan. They may be freaks of strength or balance, but they are also human, flesh and bone.
The show starts with the entire ensemble of performers exploding onto the stage (figuratively speaking) to much fanfare. There is a palpable sense of camaraderie on show. We are then treated to some clowning from LA based Ross Steeves. I wasn't really feeling the love for this part of the show... it seemed aimed more at kids than adults. The kids lapped it up, and there were lots of kids present, probably because I was at the Sunday matinee – not the best move if you are allergic to over-excited chipmunk voices. The clown segments later in the show worked for me and I smiled out loud quite a lot.
After seeing some of contortionist Sabrina Aganier's floor work on Youtube, I was keen to see what the French Canadian was going to do with a hoop suspended in the air. OMG, as the kids say. So flexible... so incomprehensibly bendy... but so mesmerisingly graceful. You can read an interview elsewhere on this site in which the performer says she enjoys every moment of this performance, and after seeing her live there is no doubting this. Her relaxed fluidity almost distracts you from the freakish contortions she is performing. Stunning. I fell a little bit in love with Sabrina after seeing this performance.
Also stunning were aerialists Alex and Nastaya Mischchenko from the Ukraine, the intimacy of their performance enhanced by the fact that they are life partners. Exquisite stuff.
There was nothing exquisite about balancing guy Alex Mruz, also from the Ukraine. Such an ordinary looking bloke, he did an extraordinary piece involving an impossibly fragile stack of tubes and balls that left no margin for error. This act simply doesn't look possible, and it's guaranteed to get your palms sweating. It did mine, anyway – actual power sweating.
There is some impressive fire work, trapeze and trampoline work, but the big boys are the slightly cheesily named Wheel Of Death (ooh) and Sphere Of Fear (ah). Cheesy names, yes, but the thrills are very real. The Wheel Of Death is a big twirling thing with... like... there are two big tread-mill circles at each end of the axis and... if you can imagine a couple of extreme hamsters... not that I'm saying Jhonathon Reina and Diectter Pastran are hamsters, it's just that this is a difficult device to describe. These same guys perform in the Sphere Of Fear, in the end having three motorcycles riding around manically inside what can only be described as a sphere of fear. Totally nuts, but somehow they manage to do all this stuff with no one getting hurt.
As mentioned, the soundtrack was fantastic and covered a very wide range of styles including (unfortunately) a dubstep. Dubstep is Satan music. Even so, somehow Cirque Adrenaline even got away with this musical faux pas.
The costuming was fabulous enough to have this Viking of a writer gasping and using the word fabulous. I want to shop where they shop.
So what's to like about Cirque Adrenaline? Pretty much everything. It's not just fun, it's FUN! It's so fun and so exciting that it shut down those chipmunk voices and left the adults unable to manage anything more than “Wow” at the end of the show. (Many wows and at least one “OMG those costumes were fabulous!”). Go with kids by all means, but the real pleasure in shows like this is that they put you in touch with your own inner child. You will be thrilled. You will be amazed. Just strap yourself in and go along for the ride.
Arts Centre Melbourne in association with Tim Lawson and Simon Painter presents
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
Dates: 1 – 10 April 2016
Bookings: 1300 182 183 | www.artscentremelbourne.com.au