By Jerome Studdy
It’s baffling and brain-bending to think that somebody once thought, “let’s build a giant steel ball so that we can ride motorbikes around inside it”, yet here we are, with a phenomenal finale to an incredible opening night of Zirk! Circus, The Big Top Spectacular. This show is an absolutely stunning montage of skill, precision, dedication, and thrill-seeking that pays homage to the history and tradition of circus, whilst still maintaining relevance with a modern twist. Usually a review ends with a recommendation, but in keeping with the topsy-turvy world of Zirk! everything is upside down. This is an incredible show that you will not regret attending. It’s no surprise that the arrival of the circus has coincided with school holidays; take your entire family, your work mates, your Uber driver, your best friend, or a first date. This show is insane, impressive, inviting, and enjoyable.
Zirk! Circus brings together a truly international range of acts, with performers from across the globe. The audience are set to be thrilled by circus classics such as tumblers, jugglers, clowns, contortion, and quick-change, as well as death-defying acts of trampoline, double giant wheel, Globe of Death, aerialists, and Rola Bola (a gritty and gutsy balancing act by Australia’s own Sascha Williams). The show features acts from Russia, Dagestan, Australia, Mexico, USA, Canada, and more, bringing incredible tradition and passion from the backgrounds of each individual performer. The truly global nature of the show was remarkable, however, a little uncomfortably pointed at times. It’s wonderful to celebrate the origin of each act, but it often teetered on the edge of stereotype and cliché between costumes, music, and fanfare.
The circus form is incredibly well established and used to remarkable effect under this big top tent. Set and apparatus changes were slick, as the audience attention was misdirected by clowns and other interaction. The punctuation of large dramatic acts with smaller comedic moments and audience participation gave the audience necessary relief. However, the structure, pacing, and tone could often use some reconsideration. The audience reached a point of sheer exhaustion from constant cheering and applauding, with performers always calling for more support from the crowd. Allowing acts to branch out into emotions other than thrill or excitement would facilitate some more passive appreciation of performances, and result in a more dynamic show arc. It was also occasionally disappointing that some acts didn’t receive the response they deserved because of how they were placed in the running order. Acts that would have stunned the audience at the beginning of the show, seemed a little lacklustre in comparison to the acts adjacent.
Of course, the show had some fumbles with some tricks or jokes not landing properly, but it’s very easy to simply sit in an audience and judge. What happened in that ring was nothing short of superhuman. It’s impossible to name and praise each act and do their performance justice. Each performer’s ability to execute the absurd with nonchalance, maintaining an air of improvisation and energy, is truly astounding. Each member of this troupe is a master of their art and apparatus. The only way that I can truly share their incredible work is by imploring you to purchase a ticket and roll up to the circus.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.