Review by James Ong
As the name would suggest, Crème de la Crème is a showcase of physical artists at the top of their game, working together for a bombastic cavalcade of acrobatics and absurd comedy. Curated by Head First Acrobats, the show is a lineup of some of the most dazzling acrobats and physical performers you will ever see and is a dazzling highlight of Sydney Fringe 2023. Seven performers, each with world-wide experience, deliver spectacle in their own distinct ways, ranging from aerial feats to tandem gymnastics and prop mastery. The range of weird and wonderful skills on display is sure to keep any audience on the edge of their seat the entire ride. Of particular note to this cirque simpleton are Alex Caulfield (a Cirque du Soleil cast member) who pulls off some astonishing feats on the hanging rings as well as Shauna Johnson who closed out the show with a jaw-dropping and heart-stopping silks set. The sheer body control of all the cast members in their respective fields was a sight to behold. Potentially an even truer testament to the skill of this particular troupe is in how well executed the comedy is. It would be very easy for the cheeky jokes, flapping appendages and splashing fluids to end up being somewhat distasteful, but their sure-footedness in storytelling keeps us wanting them to up their own antes on how far they can push it. Host for the evening Garry Starr speckles the evening with several bold skits and manages the audience energy with an effortless charm. Brash and saucy - his emceeing ability is a highlight of the show in and of itself, with his brazen tomfoolery being a welcome through line across the evening. If I had a nickel for every testicle I saw during the show, I’d have three nickels. That may not be the number you were expecting, but I’ve come to feel that is the perfect number. Taking place in the The Vault in the Entertainment Quarter, the space is decidedly less somber than its name would suggest. A huge geodesic dome, outfitted with custom rigging for aerial stunts, The Vault carries with it both a sense of grandeur and a comforting intimacy for us to marvel at these chiselled Adonises doing their best work. Crème de la Crème is a spectacular parade of talent with each performer earning their spot in this outlandishly skilled lineup. It is obvious to see why this has been (and will continue to be) a crowd favourite wherever they tour.