Tag: Avan Whaite

Melbourne Fringe 2016: UNDERTONE

Musical interaction meets circus innovation

By Myron My

Produced by Black Carnation Productions, Undertone is a circus show that – while presenting some impressive tricks and laughs – also explores the relationship between the body and sound. With a live electronic score, it pushes the boundaries of what circus can be, creating a different show at every performance.


There is a strong physical demand throughout Undertone, that the four performers make seem effortless as they jump through the air, climb on each other and fling their bodies across and under tables. Due to the concentration and focus of these tricks, the performers have also included a good dose of clowning throughout. Under the direction of Avan Whaite, this allows them to break the tension so the audience can breathe calmly, and for their personalities to come through and invite us to create a bond with them.

There are a few mishaps with certain tricks on the night I attended, and it seems at times that while the set-up is there, the follow-through isn’t always a success. However, what does work, and really takes my breath away is the work on the Chinese pole, which is used in various ways, with some acts I have not seen before in circus. Due to the design of the Melba Spiegeltent, you get to see the show from a more intimate viewpoint and acts like the balancing act on rolling tubes become extremely nail-biting, as you see just how near to the edge they roll.

Adding to the “danger” element of Undertone, the electronic soundtrack for the show created by musical director Zoltan Fesco uses live triggering from the performance itself for the audio delights we hear. In doing so, Fesco and the performers are constantly unaware of what could happen next and this unique soundscaping allows for numerous moments of surprise for the audience, the performers and the composer himself.

Undertone may not have the strongest individual acts, but it is one of the more innovative circus shows I’ve seen. With the growing number of circus coming through Melbourne, it’s always great to have your expectations of this art form challenged, and that is where Black Carnation Productions more than excel.

Venue: The Melba Spiegelent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood, 3066
Season: Until 25 September | Sat – Sun 8.30pm, Sun 3:00pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $29 Full | $24 Conc | $22 Group 6+
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival 

REVIEW: The Broadwalk Republic Presents BARBAROI

Dark, dangerous and death-dealing circus

By Myron My

Traditionally, circus is about bright colours and laughter. However in the 2015 Melbourne Fringe circus show Barbaroi, circus is transformed into a dark, gritty and dirty art form. Coming out of the darkness are shady characters and misfits of society… It’s an enthralling hour of entertainment from the seedy underbelly of the arts.


The strong opening sequence sets the mood for the show with The Barbaroi (Avan Whaite, Stan Ricketson, Will Meager, Phoebe Carlson, Caz Walsh and Hazel Bock) entering and exiting the stage, completing various flips and tricks as they do. The lighting work during this is highly effective with six square spotlights on stage shaping the darkness, subsequently allowing the performers to be coming in and out of the shadows. The fast movements of the performers combined with the erratic but perfectly timed lighting choreography is a captivating sight.

There is barely a lull in Barbaroi with the audience kept on the edge of their seats for its entirety. Bock steals the show with her two sets of foot-juggling, that are just gobsmacking in their skill. She also plays the femme fatale-esque persona with the right amount of sass and attitude, which results in her having a particularly strong presence on stage.

Strong men Meager and Ricketson are amazing to watch during the teeterboard act – and not just due to their physique, as they achieve some phenomenal flips and twists. You would think The Barbaroi couldn’t make their acts any more difficult than they already do but then they turn the dial up even more and still breathtakingly succeed. Even Carlson’s bottle-walking act completely changes our expectations and its difficulty with just a simple action.

Barbaroi is the type of show that requires an immense amount of trust and support from each of the performers. Throughout the show, those not directly involved in the act remain on stage and watch, reinforcing the idea that The Barbaroi are one team and depend on each other to succeed. The set-up between acts  is well executed and along with the music played, emphasises the roughness and the “danger” of where we are and what we are witnessing.

The clapping and cheering from the audience at the conclusion of Barbaroi’s opening night for Fringe was more than well deserved. There is a high calibre of talented circus performers on display that deserve to be seen by many people during this two-week run. It is high-octane circus that will have your eyes transfixed on the stage and your heart beating at rapid speeds, until those spotlights finally go out.

Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park, 3206

Season: Until 3 October24-26 September, 9.20pm | 29 Sept – 3 Oct, 8pm

Tickets: $27 Full | $24 Conc | $20 Cheap Tuesday

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival