Tag: Debra Batton


Sheer delight

By Lois Maskiell

Sidesault Festival kicked off with a roaring double bill on Wednesday the 8th of November. This experimental circus festival presented by Circus Oz is showcasing emerging and established circus artists in the wondrous Melba Speigeltent and features a range of independant artists from Melbourne and beyond. Casting Off by Australian troupe, A Good Catch and Unsuitable by Tumble Circus from Belfast certainly delivered the goods on the opening night.

Casting Off.jpg

Casting Off commenced with three performers sitting under a table all the while deliberating how to start their own show. These candid clowns soon took their audience on a ride as absurd as it was touching. The dialogue was fresh, carrying the show along with popping originality. The acrobatics, fast-paced and true to the Australian circus tradition, were pleasingly raw and rough around the edges.

Performers Debra Batton, Sharon Gruenert and Spenser Inwood clearly have a bond that only years of training circus could provide. Debra’s one-liners, planned or improvised were goldmines of laughter. She dropped pearls of nonsensical wisdom, including forgetting what the meaning of life was on top of a three-chair stack. Gruenert threw firey tantrums that could outdo a toddler amidst her air-piercing acrobatics. Finally, the charming Spenser Inwood effortlessly executed an aerial cradle routine, throwing and catching Sharon while jazz scat-singing melodiously.

Casting Off was relaxed, personal and fantastically inappropriate. Not surprising to see these Circus Oz performers pushing their art to new places here in Melbourne.

The ambiance of the Melba Spiegeltent is like no other venue. It’s a space whose magic has been collecting like dust since it was made in Belgium in 1910. The second show on the bill, Unsuitable reflected the facets of this mirrored tent well with its revue-type show consisting of a series of individual acts.

Unsuitable by Tumble Circus premiered at Sidesault Festival, and to say it was welcomed warmly would be an understatement. This full-length show commenced with a short vignette of three mischevieous clowns who liked to kick each others’ butts to psychtrance.

Ken Fanning, Tina Segner and Angelique Ross demonstrated their talent in a series of individual and group acts. All our favourite apparatus took the stage: trapeze, tissue, hula hoops and even a group juggling act with all performers in spangled leotards, platforms and blonde wigs.

Highlights include Tina’s tissue routine performed in motorcycle helmet, Angelique’s poetic tightwire act that told the story of a trip on the metro and featured some edible props, and Ken’s clowning act that proves the art of buffooning is very much alive. He really had the audience in the palm of his hand, eliciting high-pitched cackles with ease.

Sharp, edgy and hilarious: Tumble Circus’s Unsuitable is guaranteed to keep you engaged and laughing.

Supported by the City of Yarra and presented by Circus Oz, Sidesault Festival runs from the 8th to the 18th and is not to be missed. For tickets and more information: http://www.circusoz.com/the-spiegeltent/shows-at-the-melba.html

Image by Rob Blackburn

REVIEW: Batton & Broadway Present THE CLASSICS

Veteran circus performers continue to delight

By Myron My

The popularity of circus shows is certainly rising in Melbourne. Although there are constantly more and more exciting performances being held, the opportunity to see a show with a difference does not always present itself. Presented by Batton & Broadway, The Classics is one show with quite the difference: all the performers are over 50 years old. It is a rare opportunity to see a variety of talented artists unite in doing what they have done for decades, and also to enjoy the reminder that that the older you get doesn’t have to mean the less can you do.

The Classics

Our MCs for the night, Sue Broadway and Debra Batton, share quite the charming camaraderie and their quips back and forth feel spontaneous and natural. I do feel, however, that more time was required for the transition of the acts and the show’s overall stage direction, which often popped that enchanting bubble of wonderment you want to stay in when at the circus. 

The acts themselves are a variety of hits and misses with the opening numbers not really having the pulling power and spectacle you expect from a circus show to draw in the audience immediately. The two sets of trapeze and silks routines seemed like an odd choice, especially when the second acts were nowhere near as strong as their predecessors. With different performers scheduled for different nights of The Classics however, this might not be a regular line-up.

Having said that, Anni Davey and Kathryn Niesche‘s trapeze act was enthralling to watch and provided something quite unique to the evening. The opening act for the second half was also notably enjoyable, with a rendition of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” that hit all the right notes in its entertainment. Peter Gray‘s clowning and juggling act was immensely fun and quite possibly the highlight of the whole evening, managing to get the whole audience warmly involved with his routine.

There is strong skill and a wealth of experience on display with The Classics, and you can’t help but wonder if the performers are this good in their fifties, how amazing would they have been to watch 30 years ago, and how much could younger artists learn from their combined wealth of experience and skill? Despite the lulls in some of the acts, The Classics is a great opportunity to watch these deservedly classic circus performers show us that they’ve still got it

Venue: The Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood
Season: Until 12 December | 8pm
Tickets: $25 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Circus Oz