Friday 1 December 2017

Please Hold review

NICA has been a breeding ground for world-class circus performers for almost twenty years. In its latest show, Please Hold, the training institute puts the skills and talents of its third year students to the test.

The 21 performers' strength and agility throughout the show never ceases to amaze. The determination they have to be able to maintain a handstand for a substantial amount of time or the ease at which two people can stand on someone's shoulders or the heights at which others are thrown and then caught are a sign of the careers that await them. A few mishaps here and there but that's the risk of circus and these incidents are what make the standout moments even more memorable.

There is some great choreography particularly during the roue Cyr routine with the wheels circling the other and the four performers - Harley Timmermans, Jessie McKibbin, Elizabeth Jackson and Taylor Krasne. The visual delights of this routine are further heightened with the addition of Riley McDonald riding a unicycle weaving through the wheels and the performers.

The beginning of the show opens up interestingly enough with two performers - Katherine Martin and Piri Goodman - and their roving mics interviewing the cast about being a circus performer while they do handstands and balancing routines. This is later repeated with pre-recorded audio of their career aspirations with the circus and where they think they'll end up. While this provided a greater insight into the mind of these performers, playing it while acts were being executed made it difficult to engage with both at the same time and perhaps this sort of idea could have been better used as an interlude between acts.

In order for Please Hold to explore the idea of what it means to be part of a group, such as third year circus students, director Kate Champion steers clears of solo or pair acts and focuses on the group as a whole. While watching a group can be equally captivating for an audience member and challenging for a performer, attempting to create a show where all 21 performers are on stage for the majority of the time results in some acts that seemed to go on a bit too long, such as the trapeze act which felt lacking in any real excitement.

Learning that one performer Nelson Smyles, will be performing with Cirque du Soleil next year and the acclaimed international training that others have attended or will be, the future circus seems bright with these 21 performers. While Please Hold was not as exhilarating as previous NICA productions and other circus shows, there is still enough here to make you sit back and go wow.

Show Information

Venue: NICA National Circus Centre, 39-59 Green Street, Prahran.
Season: Until 9 December | Wed-Sat 7:30pm
Tickets: $29 Full | $22 Conc

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