Review By Regan Baker
Circus has always been one of my favourite art forms as it combines so many different elements of human perfection with sheer, unadulterated fun. It’s a testament to the extreme limits to which the human body can be pushed, while still being enjoyable for the whole family. It has been far too long since quality circus has made its’ way to Brisbane and I couldn’t be happier walking through the doors of the Playhouse Theatre at QPAC leading in to tonight’s’ performance of ‘Humans 2.0.’
After touring the globe for over two years, the team from Circa have returned home to deliver the next installment in their ‘Humans’ series. Much like its previous incarnation, ‘Humans 2.0’ is a celebration of the life force that makes up the human body. It is just as much about the things that connect us, as it is about the things that repel us. “We are galaxies, constellations of energies, not lumps of humanness,” Director Yaron Lifschitz explains.
Whether it was an intentional stylistic choice, or just my interpretation of the piece, ‘Humans 2.0’ was almost like a ballet-cirque hybrid. There was no spoken word, so the themes and story were completely left up to each individuals imagination and interpretation. Through the near dance-like motion around the stage of the performers, to the lighting, sound and acrobatics, the story of human evolution, growth and chaos was told over a jaw-dropping 70-minutes.
Opening with a flash of bright white light illuminating ten motionless bodies on the floor, the story quickly picked up as the energies of humanity began to spring to life. Rolling and leaping around the stage, the performers bodies appeared symbolic of atoms moving and colliding to form life. As the energy rose, so did the acrobatics. Human towers grew on the stage and imitated the hands of a clock on the floor through synchronized movements around an illuminated circle of light. The acrobatics were the perfect combination of mesmerizing and frightening, as bodies were thrown and caught around the stage, and gravity-defying balance was displayed atop human towers of two, three or even four people.
The strength and balance of every performer was pushed to the absolute limit in a wide range of acrobatic skills. Body wrapping was a constant element throughout, and the ability to control the pace and motion of another person’s form and weight, while not allowing them to touch the ground for balance is unbelievably complex, and amazing. The floorwork was brilliant from all performers and beautifully cut into segments, intertwined by aerial pieces on rope, silk and swing. There was not a moment of silence or stillness throughout the evening and the constant onslaught of acrobatic finesse was a sight often unseen. Most cirque performances, or at least the ones I have been to, are short segments of acrobatic work, performed by a selection of the entire cast. Not this show, however. The performers barely had a moments reprieve as they continued to work and push themselves for the vast majority of the show.
As much as I usually love giving standout performers a special mention, doing so for ‘Humans 2.0’ would be a discredit to the show as a whole. I could not fathom calling out one individual without calling out the entire cast, as each was just as marvelous as the next. From the season professional who has performed as part of Cirque Du Soleil, to the eighteen-year old fresh out of school. The cast were truly one and worked so brilliantly as a singular unit.
The direction of Yaron Lifschitz was beautifully executed and his collaboration with Technical Director, Jason Organ, and Head of Circus, Rowan Heydon-White delivered a unique and enthralling circus masterpiece. The lighting design by Paul Jackson, and original music by Ori Lichtik combined to form an entrancing work of art. The use of strobe lighting and on-stage backlighting presented beautiful shadows and effects across the stage that added to the overall delivery of Lifschitz vision. The whole experience was also amplified by the bare set, as there were no distractions and no other background noise to pull your focus away from the artists on stage. It was the perfect delivery method.
What was promised was delivered, and what was expected was left behind, and replaced by something even greater. There is circus – and then there is Circa.