The Entertainment Quarter, January 2
Circus Oz’s latest show But Wait….There’s More arrives in Sydney at the end of a two-year tour. It’s clearly had a few changes along the way but is in good shape.
There are plenty of strong, engaging personalities among the company but they work together as a tight ensemble. As well as performing in various acts, they all play instruments to bolster the two musicians in the band and pitch in to help with scene changes so that things keep rocking along.
Directed by Mike Finch – his final production as artistic director of the company, a role he’s held since 1997 – the show supposedly has an underpinning theme about “infobesity” and consumerism. There are various references ranging from a comic character staggering under a tower of boxed purchases to an acrobatic routine with the performers in barcode-like costumes. But overall you’d be hard pressed to recognise a consistent theme if you didn’t already know about it.
No matter. The show has that lovely raw honesty and irreverent sense of fun that characterises Circus Oz. It looks good too with impressive costuming by Laurel Frank and lighting by Paul Jackson.
Dale Woodbridge-Brown is very funny as the ringmaster introducing himself as a triple threat – gay, indigenous, adopted. He is quick with the one-liners, strikes some wonderfully tongue-in-cheek poses in his fetching red jacket, shorts and sock suspenders, and is an acrobat to boot in a hoop diving routine (with Sharon Gruenert and Nathan Kell) through a TV-like rectangle.
Real-life partners Kyle Raftery and April Dawson perform a beguiling balancing routine on a unicycle (to a beautiful piece of music for piano and banjo), Olivia Porter’s juggling routine with white balls has a refreshing edginess to it, Matt Wilson’s balancing act on children’s chairs has an added twist with the chairs perched precariously on a pepper grinder, plastic skull, glass bottle and statue of the Eiffel Tower, while the exuberant flying trapeze act mixes impressive feats with slapstick comedy.
So often, the clowns aren’t funny in circus shows. Here, Wilson (a circus veteran of 25 years) and Porter are a genuinely funny double act using plenty of old-style slapstick – she as a timid, put-upon character, and he as a strong, chipper chappie.
A routine featuring the live performance of the “Lion Song” with children from the audience going up on stage to be lions sits rather oddly. It’s obviously a reference to circuses from days past when animals were paraded but for me anyway it was one of a couple of flat spots.
Overall, however, But Wait…There’s More is one of the most entertaining Circus Oz shows I’ve seen for a while with a warmth and generosity of spirit that is very endearing.
But Wait….There’s More plays in the Big Top in The Showring, Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park until January 24. Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100