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Review: Humans 2.0 at Carriageworks (on Gadigal Land)

By Jerome Studdy

If there’s one thing acrobats know how to do, it’s terrify an audience; and it has to be one of the most incredible feelings. Clenching teeth, holding breath, heart racing, trying not to look, unable to look away, jumping in your seat, flinching, gasping, hoping you can trust them to nail their craft as much as they trust one another, all the while knowing that the exhaustion you feel as an audience member after the show is miniscule compared to what the body of an acrobat goes through.

Circa’s Humans 2.0 was absolutely astounding.

Unavoidably contemporary, ten outstanding champions of the human body took to the circular stage and demonstrated just how extensive the vocabulary of human movement can be. It’s impossible to begin describing the fascinating and astounding configurations, tumblings, trustings, and fallings of this group. Comfortably built upon basic acrobatics and floor skills, the ensemble (under the evident brilliance of Yaron Lifschitz) elaborate upon their foundations to create bizarre physical concoctions and demonstrate movements that move beyond what should be humanly capable. Elements of the show appear completely inconceivable, and the audience is left to wonder whether things were planned or whether they were the result of hours and hours of experimentation and play. Comment must also be made on the fluidity and capability of the ensemble. There was no formula that mandated who should base and who should fly. Each member demonstrated strength, flexibility, control, trust, and the appropriate amount of circus artist insanity.

The show itself is a series of vignettes; moods and motifs captured in light, sound, floor acrobatics, dance, group acrobatics, and aerials. The show (intelligently so) has not been assigned a strict or tangible narrative; rather, images and interactions that leave ample room for audience interpretation. It welcomes the audience in to simply marvel at the performance, or layer it with their own experience and meaning to create something personal and dynamic. We see partnerships evolve and dissolve, friendships, loves, lusts, passing moments, fleeting glances, support, neglect, and an ongoing myriad of human emotion and experience. In a time where our entire world has been put on hold, it was glory just to see people being held. Albeit upside down.

The entire performance is scored to work by Ori Lichtik. This, unfortunately, is one of the few missed shots of the production. Whilst Lichtik’s work is brilliant in its modernity, playful texturing, and ability to capture abstract emotion or experience through sound, it is aurally exhausting. Predominantly minimalist in nature, once the soundtrack begins, there is little to no reprieve for the audience (aside from the occasional disruptions of poorly executed safety vamps). No moments of true stillness, tranquillity, or consonance, the result of which is a compounding of the audience stress caused by the acrobatics. If the intention of the show was to create something that exhausts as many senses as possible, then this was achieved, however, the soundtrack has potential to reassure an audience in a way that padded floors and spotters cannot. This acted more as a sonic agitator.

Criticisms aside, this is truly a remarkable piece of contemporary circus.

The show runs until January 21 at Carriageworks. Go.

Images Supplied by Syd Fest


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