Every now and then performing arts practitioners need to revisit the building blocks of their craft and to re-connect with the spontaneous joy inherent in performance. Adelaide based circus maestro Jono Dragt who gave us the complex and slickly precise award winning Attic at last year’s Fringe has accepted the challenge of a more loosely structured improvisational circus / physical theatre with his latest offering, showing at Gluttony’s Empire Theatre – A Game of Circus.
The premise is as simple as the ever-popular television series, Whose Line is it Anyway – you introduce a guest performer to each new show and then see what happens.
There are five members in the Outside the Lines ensemble, and a different guest artist is introduced for every show. The guest artist doesn’t do a “spot”, but has an hour of rehearsal time with the cast to learn the rules of each routine before becoming a full ensemble member for that show.
The guest for the Sunday 16th February performance was Andy Kent Trudgian a “contact manipulation” artist. The end result was raw, sometimes dangerous, exuberant and charming. The joy of spontaneity is ever present in this show and the smiles on the faces of the performers are infectious as the cast find themselves doing routines that take them out of their comfort zone. And the audience gets swept up in the moment as there is much audience interaction and laugh-out-loud moments. The games are traditional drama and theatre sports games with an acrobatic twist. The numbers game has contortions built in, using dots on the floor, twister style, to create physical shapes has an acrobatic component and blindfold games carry the necessary suspense and danger.
Despite these spontaneous and hastily rehearsed moments there are plenty of core circus offerings in this show to showcase the skills of this talented cast. The strongman is impressive as are the acrobatics and balance routines. And the juggling adds a new dimension that I haven’t seen before – grapes; and this comes with a warning. If you are compulsive about food hygiene, look away, or at least don’t repeat this routine at home. The grapes recur throughout the show and find themselves being used with retractable tape measures, and then being swallowed.
Its crazy fun and has the audience in fits of laughter.
A Game of Circus is a family friendly show with the children being invited to participate in one of the routines.
Jono Dragt promised that by bringing in a new guest artist for every show that no two shows will ever be the same. But there is one thing that I am certain of – that this very talented cast will always bring their infectious smiles, spontaneous joy and incredible feats of acrobatic strength to every show they do.
Fringe Review By Bob Becker
For tickets and show information head to FringeTix.