Described as ‘the rock stars of circus,’ Australian company, Circa, had the audience in the double-jointed palm of its hand when seven acrobats performed incredible feats, revealing physical courage and astonishing agility. The company is part of a movement that is redefining circus, turning it into an art form.
It’s a wonderful spectacle with an ongoing ‘wow’ factor, an incredible display of what the human body is capable of. The show manages to be both graceful and anarchic.
There are neither traditional clowns here nor real animals in Beyond. But rabbits play a role with the performers donning large rabbit heads at various points. Rabbits symbolise fertility, desire and procreation. They are part of the cycle of life. They also symbolise vulnerability and, in this show, they have the cute factor. But beyond that, the rabbits also reveal the animal in all of us. And they are playful and humorous.
It’s difficult to find a narrative in this show. It’s more about virtuoso physical displays of dexterity and remarkable bravery. There are also moments of tenderness. Recorded music accompanies the show with songs from Camille O’Sullivan, Jacques Brel, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Sid Vicious. The songs are all about yearning but they’re also celebratory. And the lyrics are well synched with the movements of the acrobats. When Sinatra belts out ‘New York, New York’, one of the performers is perched atop two of her fellow performers, nicely coinciding with Sinatra’s line, “top of the heap”.
When Camille O’Sullivan’s voice is heard singing “Come Sail Your Ship Around me”, an acrobat’s pony tail becomes the focus of attention at the same time that O’Sullivan sings the line “let your hair hang down”.
Props such as a tennis racket are used. It has no gut strings, allowing an acrobat to squeeze into it. This gives rise to comic moments as the performer successfully and comically wiggles his way out of the frame of the racket.
As the show comes to an end, Sinatra and Sid Vicious sing ‘I Did it My Way.’ ‘Circa’ does circus its way, creating magical and memorable moments.