Tag: Jeremy Hopkins

Review: Circus Oz Presents AURORA

Dazzling visuals and flying penguins

By Leeor Adar

Circus Oz’s latest offering, Aurora, is a whole lot of fun for the family, offering dazzling visuals and humour with a nod to the climate and its refugees.

Directed by Kate Fryer, the talented ensemble includes a polar bear (Tara Silcock), a band of flying penguins (Sam Aldham, Matty Brown, Adam Malone, Spenser Inwood, Shani Stephens, Jillibalu Riley), and a fantastic live music soundscape featuring Jeremy Hopkins and Selene Messinis.

Children will be completely entertained from the get-go, with the band of flying penguins eliciting laughter and smiles from the crowd, including a few bouncing props tossed amongst the audience – for those holding a glass of wine, be warned! The penguins soon show their prowess with the flying trapeze, peppering humour from high above as they perform extraordinary acts, leaping to one another with audible gasps from the audience.

Silcock emerges to the audience grinning, and commences a polar bear/climate awareness rap, which is admittedly a difficult feat to perform in a polar bear suit under the hot lights. But Silcock is up for the challenge, flanked by Hopkins and Messinis on drums. The rap is a touch breathless, but my partner and I shared a sad look about the current state of affairs for the polar beast. It quickly turns playful again, as Silcock attempts to enjoy a hearty meal of a toy penguin, much to the outrage of the surrounding children in the audience, prompting her to commence an artful foot juggle with the toy penguin.

The unfolding of Aurora tells the story of toxic waste and rubbish piling up, and the plight of the animals fighting for food and territory. Circus Oz attempts to explore this through a combination of humour, and acts that dissect its impact on the environment and its inhabitants whilst showcasing the many talents of its ensemble. It’s hard to inject the realities of our environment to children, and while its not lost on the adult spectators, I do wonder if the younger members of the audience are cognisant to what is being performed.

Stand out, Adam Malone, is electrifying in his Washington trapeze act suspended above the toxic waste, mostly balancing on his head (gasp!), and later again proving his mercurial performance style in a hoops act. Sam Aldham’s notable collection of plastic rubbish from a rope as he climbs it precariously above the ground, is another nod to the pick-up-your-rubbish fodder for the children in the audience. Matthew Brown is a regal addition of the classic ringmaster trope, adding a level of gravitas to the mostly light-hearted entertainment.

Aurora, with its quality selection of circus acts, music and high-energy performances makes for an enjoyable romp for all of its spectators.

You can catch Aurora until 6 October at the gorgeous Royal Botanic Gardens. Don’t forget to take the younger members of your tribe! Tickets: https://www.circusoz.com/shows-and-tickets/about/10021/aurora.html

Photography by Mark Turner

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.

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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