Photos – Florence Montmare
If you’ve ever been captivated by a pile of leaves dancing and jostling in eddies of wind, you will understand the simple and poignant beauty of Air Play.
The clever New York clowning duo of Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, the Acrobuffos, have harnessed the power of air as well as the joy of physical theatre to create a show which is brilliant for teaching children that words aren’t necessary in theatre.
The pair’s playful act brilliantly captures the ambivalence in two close siblings’ relationship – warring rivals desperate to get on top one minute; beautiful, inseparable soul mates the next.
Their props are no more than simple household items – umbrellas, balloons and feathers – brought to life by their own breath, helium and an army of fans. With the help of artist Daniel Wurzel, they create breathtaking air sculptures with a colour palette and themes inspired by Joan Miro and Wassily Kandsinky. Giant pieces of red and yellow silk contort like exotic sea creatures, animated by the circle of fans beneath. The soundtrack complements the ephemera so beautifully – leaping from Gypsy balkan to Nordic boys' choir, Italian avant-garde to Nancy Sinatra.
The show’s most visually stunning moment comes when they release inside the circle of fans a couple of big balloons, a myriad tiny red balloons and a cloud of glitter – the effect is like a giant, hypnotising lava lamp.
And the comic moments are many: several times throughout the show the duo gleefully clamber out into the audience chasing their balloons. At one stage Bloom is trying to herd an errant balloon back on stage with a leaf blower, when he directs it onto an audience member’s head who’s hair goes crazy (she doesn't look too impressed).
In another hilarious moment, the duo squeeze their entire body inside giant balloons and the audience catches its breath, wondering whether they can escape or breathe. Eventually their heads pop out, and they bounce around the stage like manic juicy fruit.
The pair’s exotic back-story only adds to the show’s romance – they met at a circus in Afghanistan and were engaged while street performing in Scotland and married in China. They come to Melbourne having headlined the Big Apple Circus and performed in more than 20 countries.
This is a gem of a family show bound to entrance all ages – don't miss your chance to float away with it.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre
Dates: 18 – 22 January 2017
Bookings: artscentremelbourne.com.au | 1300 182 183