Review by Jackie Coffin.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have long harboured the desire to grow a beard and run away with the circus. So it was with no small measure of excitement that I went to the Cube theatre on Friday night to see Circa present 61 Circus Acts in 60 Minutes.
Excited and curious as I was, I spent some time on Friday imagining what kind of circus touts themselves on being able to run 61 acts in 60 minutes. I mean, really? Sixty minutes to perform sixty-one entertaining acts of amazing circus magic? It seemed unlikely, impossible almost. But lo and behold, on Friday night, the Circa troupe swaggered confidently onstage, ready to smash out their act and keep their performers' dignity. We, the audience were told to cheer, clap and stamp our feet, regardless of whether we loved it or not. Then a huge clock was started and the show began.
In the blurry fifty-something minutes that followed, the performers set about dazzling their audience with hula hoops, pointy knives, dancing ladies and acrobat-toppling teddy bear attacks, all performed with some sense of relaxation and bravado. You could easily be forgiven for thinking they had all the time in the world.
Focused and in control, Jujitsu Jess, Beautiful Brittney, Contortionist Kimberly, Dangerous Dobbie and Nautical Nathan used their bodies in ways that make the audience gasp in amazement and wince in shock. The acts kept ticking away and so did the clock, making it very hard not to get caught up in the energy. Fifty-two minutes in, the acrobats were playing around with a football and they were only up to act number 47.
Although the show has probably been cleverly choreographed to go to the wire the audience was collectively sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if these plucky acrobats could pull it off. With precious little time remaining, the bendy banditos remembered they were up against the clock and started to step it up a little. The tricks started coming faster, urgently, and with more abandon.
Torn between watching the clock and the performers, the audience is holding their breath and doing maths in their heads as the time disappears, but when Jujitsu Jess hangs from a trapeze, gripping only with her neck, no one is watching the clock anymore.
In circus speak, 'chookas' and not 'break a leg' is the commonly used phrase for good luck and when you see the five members of 61 Circus Acts in 60 Minutes do their thing, you will understand why. This is no ordinary circus. A cleverly-produced, chaotic show, backed up by infectious music, simple props and sharp wit. Circa is a class act that will quickly win over any sceptic. There are no elephants and there is no popcorn. Instead, think contortion and strength, sharp knives and amazing feats, hula hoops and a lot of fruit. There is no time for tired old re-runs in this show.
61 Circus Acts in 60 Minutes. Don't try it at home kids. These guys are professionals.
Photo by Jess Connell.