DNA @ The Vagabond at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, Adelaide 24/2/2019

There is a very natural and honest aesthetic that runs through DNA presented by Casus Circus at the garden of Unearthly Delights / The Vagabond.

This extraordinary performance celebrates diversity, sexuality and culture without being didactic. Director Natano Fa’anana confesses that he enjoys circus and storytelling equally, and this is evident as he weaves a beautiful narrative about awakenings and the tensions that ensue, and that are resolved in a most charming and disarming way.

DNA has five acrobats and two dancers Mayu Muto and Johnny Brown; and the fusion of styles make for a very satisfying synergy. Whereas the acrobats are incredibly strong and skilfull, whether it be in the balance or aerial work, they are also wonderfully expressive when doing floorwork. Mayu  Muto brings her classical and Japanese dance skills to the performance so subtly that the lines between acrobatics and dance are deliberately blurred. Jonathon Brown, an Anawin man from Armidale celebrates traditional moves from his people in a way that fit in so beautifully into the holistic aesthetic that Fa’anana has sensitively created.

Sarah MacDougall who came to circus via volleyball uses her height and strength to create powerful contrasts and has a delightfully hilarious moment that is straight out of Weimar Cabaret as she attempts very difficult aerial stunts in a ball gown, high heels and feather boa. Jesse Scott, Lachlan Mcauley, Phoebe Carlson and Kali Retallick are all seasoned performers and perform stunts that are as good, if not better than any that I have seen at this year’s Fringe.

This is a visually pleasing performance that deliberately explores body shapes, cultural background and sexuality in a way that works so well with the narrative – “There is no escaping our DNA! But how much does it define the people we become, our decisions, our afflictions, our sanity. Are we bound to the one path, or do our choices, culture, class and race have more sway in our story?”

Natano Fa’anana is a very intelligent director and uses the Theatrical Viewpoints of spatial awareness, tempo, shape and gesture to create a real work of art. As he says, “Instead of making art on a canvas with a paint brush we do it with our bodies”

There is tenderness and anxiety and entrapment. There are good decisions and bad decisions. And every performer is an actor, dancer and acrobat conveying joy, fear, frustration and love convincingly.

There is so much to celebrate here: but mostly that circus and physical theatre is moving away from presenting unconnected tricks and vignettes and discovering the power of combining intelligent choreography with narrative.

I am really delighted that Australia has a circus / physical theatre company like Casus that explores what is good about the diversity of humanity while entertaining with incredible feats of strength and agility.

I feel privileged to have watched this wonderful performance. I thoroughly recommend DNA showing at The Vagabond at the Garden of Unearthly Delights

Fringe Review By Bob Becker

For tickets, show dates and times to DNA head to Fringe-Tix

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