Tag: Birrarung Marr

Circus Oz Presents MODEL CITIZENS

Brilliantly breathtaking

By Joana Simmons

In their newest show Model Citizens, the Circus Oz crew has made a masterpiece that blows our socks off and tickles our feet as the same time. Featuring a highly energetic all-Australian cast, and an absolutely fantastic live band, we are taken on a journey to explore the myths of modern Australia, what it means to fit in; to be a model citizen. The range of circus acts is immense, all skillfully choreographed and intertwining with the blue set and giant everyday objects, with a delightful dash of the company’s trademark Aussie charm.


The Circus Oz Big Top on Birrarung Marr buzzes as the audience of all ages piles in to the well-lit, well structured, technical canvas wonderland. The blue set designed by Michael Baxter, with a giant pair of scissors side stage, provides a familiar yet unrecognizable backdrop for the world we are about to enter.  We are asked to wonder what makes us us, to open our eyes and mind, as the models come to life: flipping over and around each other to the punchy drums. There’s a real sense of play throughout the show, contrasted with the element of danger in the acts and the deeper questions we are searching for answers to. We crane our necks gasping as the performers hang and spin high above us on various circus apparatus, each with a wonderful twist – a giant pair of Y-Fronts, a huge safety pin, trapeze and more. From the contortion to hula hoop, spring sequences, adagio, fire, juggling, balancing to rollerskating, each act seamlessly glides into the next, with no divide between storytelling and ‘tricks.’ This show is something greater than people making shapes to music.

I could rave for days about the band. The original music by musical director Ania Reynolds had me tapping my feet and at the edge of my seat. Reynolds was joined by energetic musical ensemble – Michelle John, the multi-talented and highly hilarious Matt Wilson, Alex Wiebel Wiebel and Jeremy Hopkins (whose new rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” was a standout). From synth to drums to guitar, bass saxophone and violin, the soundtrack united the show.

Moreover, the athletic performers ought to be properly chuffed at how they all kicked some serious ass, and clearly have trained for a very long time to be the top of their game. All performers’ characterization was natural and they don’t only make it look easy: they make it look fun.  Individual acts that had the audience going berserk included the “Peg Acrobatics” featuring Jake Silvestro, Lachlan Sukro, Steph Mouat, Luke Ha and Mitch Jones – a delightfully playful, well-choreographed and comic sequence. Meanwhile, Jarred Dewey’s contortion irons were graceful and stunning, and Freyja Edney is a multifaceted performerand incredibly strong; she also wears an apron like a boss.  It was the penultimate piece however – Alex Wiebel Wiebel on the slack ropes – that absolutely tore the top down.

It’s hard to believe it’s Artistic Director/ Concept creator Rob Tannion’s first show. Everything is so well put together, with the right combination of comedy and something to think about. He has something wonderful to share, and I am excited to see what he will bring next. Shows of this magnitude take an army of creatives to bring to life – Laurel Frank’s costume design was both fitting with the theme and all the individuals’ bodies.  Lighting by Sian James-Holland gave a real sense of originality and ingenuity, especially paired with Ryan Taplin’s rigging design (never before have I seen a giant pair of undies from which one can suspend themselves). It gives me so much inspiration and pride to see what is capable when such creatives work together on something with such overt dedication.

If you still think circus is just tightropes, jaded bearded ladies, and seedy ringmasters, you couldn’t be more wrong. Circus Oz has created its own ballsy brand, and has bought us a terrific show in Model Citizens. Go with your kids, your partner, your friends: it’s worth every penny, and will get your heart racing and a smile on your face.

Model Citizens – Circus Oz Big Top premiere in Melbourne 

Season 20 June – 16 July 2017

Duration 2 hours (including 20 minute interval)

Venue Circus Oz Big Top

Location Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (between Federation Square and Batman Avenue)

Tickets $30 – $95 (plus booking fees)

Bookings ticketek.com.au

Image by Rob Blackburn


Left wanting more…

By Rachel Holkner

Circus Oz has always performed with such glee and joy, and But Wait… There’s More! is no exception: the performers and the audience are caught up in the joy of simply being a part of a circus. The atmosphere is undeniable, beginning even from collecting tickets to the sounds of the Federation Bells pealing right outside the Big Top.


Set in a mottled, crumbling theatre But Wait … There’s More! is the first Circus Oz show to have been produced at their new permanent, purpose-built Collingwood home of which they are suitably proud. If photographs in the program are any indication, the space is beautiful, light-filled, and modern. Everything this production is not.

Taking on “infobesity” as a theme, the idea that we are so inundated with data, marketing, sales, spin and brainless television that… what? The show offers no analysis nor solutions to the topics they try to explore. Instead the conceits are a thin thread to link together disjointed acts, too many of which were not only detached completely from the theme, but not even terribly entertaining.

Barcode clowns scatter through the show disrupting acts, and causing mayhem: their demands for acts to be presented in the form of a game show were irritating and lent nothing but to highlight how underdeveloped some of these filler-acts were.

There were some stunning performances from the ensemble – a ballet performed on unicycle by Kyle Raftery and April Dawson, a poignant juggling act by Olivia Porter – yet these were sadly too few. The show as a whole lacked the highs and lows you expect from a circus, whether side-splitting hilarity or breath-holding tension.

These highly skilled performers were hobbled by an underdeveloped story and I only hope they bring more of the beauty and light from Collingwood into their next production.
Venue: Under the Heated Big Top, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Dates: 18th June – 13th July. Check circusoz.com for full list of times.

Tickets: $24 (Child) – $95 (Ringside)

Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au, 136 100


Everything it’s cranked up to be

By Jessica Cornish

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday Circus Oz,
Happy 35th birthday to you!

35 years on and Circus Oz is still in full swing, and just launched their 2013 reconstructed season of Cranked Up. The quirky production (founded on their previous show From the Ground Up) is loosely focused on the idea of the ‘construction, building and fabrication’ of Australia, and entertained its audience with its wild and witty antics in pantomime style.

Cranked Up

The multi-talented cast were very versatile, and personal highlights included drummer Bec Mathews in her pendulum-like structure flying across the space as acrobats weaved in and around the swinging object, the table skilfully juggled on the soles of Hazel Bock’s feet, and commentary by Indigenous clown/actor Mark Sheppard. The finale of act 1 was also mesmerising, with a trampoline scaff (scaffolding) tower acting as the centre piece for manic acrobats flinging themselves off this structure in a visual frenzy of back flips, jumps and dives.

The show was highly enjoyable and lots of fun. However, opening night jitters got the better of some performers with a few dropped balls, missed flips and slightly less-than-flawless scene changes. Likewise some of the banter from the MCs was slightly hard to follow at times, and I got a little lost in the dialogue. However, I am certain given a week these issues will iron themselves out, and the show will just keep evolving and getting better and better!

Circus Oz is an amazing company that consistently promotes social inclusion and equity for all Australians, and newly-arrived members of our community. Facilitating numerous workshops and performances in some of our most remote Indigenous communities and detention centres, and donating thousands of tickets to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre on a regular basis, they are a company that values both human diversity and ‘ having a good time’. And Cranked Up is a great show that allows all people to come together and enjoy themselves in the crazy and incredible antics that are Circus Oz. What are you waiting for?!

Where: Under the (HEATED) big top at Birrarung Marr

When: 19 June- 14 July

Cost: From $24

Bookings: Phone 136 100, or at Ticketmaster Outlets or via www.ticketmaster.com.au