Review: Prehysterical at Runaway Festival Park - Melb Fringe

Review by Wendy Samantha


Standing amongst it all at the new boutique festival playground within Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market precinct, there is a great excitement outside in the spring sunshine. Crowds are gathering at Runaway Festival Park and the Testing Grounds have come alive with Melbournians enjoying this year’s freedom and the chance to see a good show. Lines of people are sprawled across the colourful chalk drawn covered asphalt and there are happy children everywhere, chatting and creating art whilst they wait, alongside large pieces of decorated coral.


As you head towards The Vault, the chatter amongst the audience of all ages is one of excited anticipation with a happy vibe. On entry to the pop up dome you are bathed in squiggly lights and an air of energy. The stage is set with a simple rock face and as soon as you are seated the cavemen quickly enter waving to the audience - much to all the children’s delight. There is simple, but appropriate costuming and staging as it is clear the focus is on the acrobatic tricks. The Lighting highlights what is a wonder of talented routines, and adds to the storyline.


As we follow 3 crazy and seemingly smelly neanderthals through a highly interactive adventure, there is a well timed mixture of mimed cavemen skits, slapstick humour, slow motion and intricate circus skills. The clever voiceover narration (reminiscent to that of the George of the Jungle movie) assists in taking us on this journey and we search the land, leap over a river, dash away from a tiger, survive mosquitoes, heat up the cold weather, flip through a dream and fly up into a lion trap all in search of some food (or nom noms as they say). And all this in just under an hour!


There were great murmurs in the crowd as they recognised the popular music tracks used to match the on stage scenarios, and the props have clearly been well thought out with many turning into something to juggle, leap over, climb up or be used by the audience when they needed a flowing river. This, along with the performers coming into the audience, holding a Pictionary type game and asking questions to all, heightened the interaction and enjoyment for everyone.


The headfirst acrobat team are both delightful and sensational. Their comedic timing and facial expressions, along with the strength, concentration and characters held were remarkable. Highlights include the group’s use of the trapeze, Anthony Saltalamacchia’s impressive speed juggling, Alex Caulfield’s ability to stand on his head and one hand whilst in the air, and Chelsea Angell’s high energy hoop sequence along with her foot spinning, fast paced splits in the dance silks. The talent on display here is awe inspiring.


With leaf skirts and coconut bras, the whole family will enjoy this show and be screaming about bananas at the finale. A special touch for the kids when they get a photo and meet the team after the performance.


If you want a front row seat, perhaps line up a little earlier than 10 minutes prior to the event. But the view from all around is designed well with the positioning of the stage and the raised back seats.


To experience a highly entertaining and engaging, excited and applause filled dome you must see Prehysterical by the Headfirst Acobats! It was said to be something everyone would enjoy and it does not disappoint. There are lots of oohs and ahhs, and laughter throughout right until the final bow.

Image Credit: Callan Harris