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Review: Society at Wonderland Spiegeltent (Federation Square, The Paddock)

By Alice Mooney

An alluring and seductive evening that was thoroughly enjoyed by all, so much that the mesmerised audience did not leave their seats until they were absolutely certain the evening was at an end. Society transports you back to the simplicity of jaw-dropping admiration one experiences as a child and you’ll leave the Wonderland Speigeltent making plans of getting back into yoga, gymnastics or dancing. A charming and charismatic Master of ceremonies introduces New Orleans as the Society which impregnated dance, acrobatics, contortion and burlesque with a dark attitude melded with voodoo and ritual.

The show opens with vocalist Kara Ciezki followed by a sultry dance number with Simon Storey and Mimi LeNoire as Miss New Orleans. There is a powerful dual ariel performance by Veronica Waite and LeNoire, which pushes the boundaries of same-sex taboos. Naomie Ding displays incredible balance on the Russian bar, and after a not-so-ideal dismount gained a significant instrumental build up and round of applause for her impressive second attempt. Imperfections such as this heighten the ‘edge of your seat’ drama that come from live physical arts as you are reminded of the dangerous reality of these stunts. Waites brings an eerie ‘zombie-esque’ contortion routine displaying what can only be assumed an art that demands constant of practice and total dedication. Zachariah Johnson is entangled by Ding’s dominating femme fatale on the ropes, submitting to her strength and control in a battle of the sexes.

Set beneath a twinkling Ferris Wheel, the Wonderland Spegieltent is reminiscent of Dr Parnassus’ Imaginarium complimented by a welcoming bar and outdoor seated area. The show’s 9pm performance is ideal for your after-dinner event with friends and bring plenty! Commendations to Harrison Cope who lights the warm and intimate space with appropriate seductive reds and purples, and complimented by outer chandeliers with golden cherubs that gaze down to greet guests. The small specific fineries are consistent with the tone of performance and are featured in costume, music and mood.

Sequins, suspenders and removable layers, dazzle and in the case of glow in the dark body paint, dominate in the performance. The music both recorded and instrumental lifts every performance and you can’t help tapping your feet. The cast of performers are very much amongst the crowd giving it a sense that you’re letting your hair down with friends who are showing off their stellar party tricks. Each act flowed well into the next with no two performances the same. Highlights of the evening were Tully Fedorowjtsch’s clown/bartender skills, bursting with energy and enthusiasm, LeNoire and Waites effortlessness in the ariel duo and the multi-suited MC’s wardrobe malfunction.

I need only stress that watching this talented group perform live far outweighs those which flood our primetime talent shows on T.V. Society uses the incumbent nature of sex and expression that come alive ‘After Dark’ to transgress the humble circus. This is the one to tame even the most folded arm, beer swelling, flannelette shirt wearing arts sceptic. Sit back and enjoy the raw physical strength and expertise of the performers of After Dark Theatre’s Society.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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