What makes us who we are? Are we all the same and if not, can we accept our differences and co-exist peacefully? In Circus Oz's new show Model Citizens these ideas are explored through a variety of tricks and acrobatics that captivates its audience from the very first second right up until when the lights go back up with an extremely polished and well-thought out production.
The opening minutes of the show in which the talents of its eleven cast are showcased, are thrilling and energetic with the momentum never slowing down throughout the two-hour spectacle. It's refreshing to witness a show where the performers' personalities come through and express genuine excitement to be on stage inside the Big Top tent.
Tania Cervantes Chamorro performs a complex aerial slings act with an air of confidence and grace as she exhibits the great skill she possesses. Hoops may be a standard inclusion of a circus show, but the added element of having four performers surrounding Freyja Edney and throwing hoops to each other while she completes her routine results in a somewhat ethereal tone to the stunning performance. The final act for Model Citizens is utterly mesmerising with Alexander Weibel Weibel taking on the slack ropes in a musically inspired way that I have never seen done before.
Music is an integral part to any Circus Oz show and musical director Ania Reynolds has created some incredible musical moments that heighten the drama and the intensity of the acts, including the House of Credit Cards routine by Luke Ha. The "Weber" song by musician Jeremy Hopkins and the "Intolerance" song by Edney are both highly entertaining and challenge the idea of what being Australian really means and what the values that we hold and share say about us.
The eye-catching set and prop design by Michael Baxter plays with perspective and how we choose to see things with oversized household items, such as safety pins and clothes pegs, being used in ways you would not ordinarily consider. Lined up against the prominent angular set piece are silhouettes of various body parts and accessories, questioning the idea of the one-size fits all for the types of people and cultures we want to accept into society.
Model Citizens looks to celebrate our difference and see the world from another perspective, and this circus show finds the perfect balance of giving us the opportunity to open up our minds while constantly entertaining us. If this first production by new Artistic Director Rob Tannion is any indication of what's to come from Circus Oz then we are in for some real exciting times.
Venue: Circus Oz Big Top, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne (between Federation Square and Batman Avenue).
Season: Until 16 July | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sat 1.30pm, Sun 3pm
Tickets: $22 – $95 (plus booking fees)
Bookings: Circus Oz
Photo credits: Rob Blackburn