Tag: Matt Wilson

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.

CircusOz2017_ModelCitizens_Ensemble_PhotographyRobBlackburn.jpg

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

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REVIEW: Circus Oz Presents CLOSE TO THE BONE

Wit, whimsy and wonder

By Myron My

When I go to the circus I often can’t help feeling like a child again as I watch in awe, wonderment and envy at the acts on display. Fortunately for me, these feelings continue to be felt at the Melba Spiegeltent with the current show from Circus Oz, Close To The Bone.

Circus Oz_Close to the Bone_Credit – Rob Blackburn_Caption – Lilikoi Kaos and Circus Oz band

The first thing you notice upon entering is the surprising size of the Spiegeltent. It’s a small and intimate space, which works well from an audience member perspective because no matter where you sit, you can more or less hear the heavy breathing of the performers, see the sweat dripping down their faces, and really see the strength and flexibility on display. These are highly talented professionals who are pushing themselves to their limits, and possibly even further.

I particularly enjoyed Lilikoi Kaos and Dale Woodbrige-Brown’s mischievous interactions during the hoop act, and Olivia Porter’s hacky-sack segment had everyone’s eyes glued on her from beginning to end.

The highlight of the night however belongs to Matt Wilson and his extremely high risk-balancing act, about which the less said is better so as to not ruin the surprise. What I will say though, is the tent was filled with tense excitement as Wilson went about performing this and the collective sigh of relief and cheers from the crowd upon completion was resounding.

There is a strong emphasis on music throughout Close To The Bone, which is led by the skillful Ania Reynolds and Ben Hendry. However, the cast also joins in throughout the night on a variety of instruments including guitars, piano and trumpets and even squeeze toys. The impressive “unconventional” drumming performance by Hendry further enhances the relationship between the two art forms.

Circus Oz’s Close To The Bone is an evening of good old-fashioned acts with just a touch of edginess and cheek that will most certainly entertain even the harshest circus show critics.

Venue: The Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnston St, Collingwood

Season: Until 21 December| Thurs-Fri 8pm, Sat 5:30 and 9:30pm, Sun 5.30pm

Tickets: $45 Full | $40 Conc

Bookings: ticketmaster.com.au or 136 100