Saturday 20 January 2018

Spectrum - Midsumma Festival review

Uncovered Circus returns to Midsumma Festival with their new show, Spectrum. While last year's show, Uncovered, explored homosexuality and first time encounters, this time round, director and performer Dave Coombs has broadened the scope looking to highlight the experiences of the rainbow that creates the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Spectrum begins with an intriguing opening act with Liam Dunner on the aerial straps. It's an arresting routine with the rest of the cast standing either side of him, gradually placing a row of coloured bottles centre stage in recognition of the rainbow flag, thus firmly establishing the intent of this show.

The range of acts that follow showcase the skills these up and coming circus performers have worked hard on refining. Spectrum asks a lot from its cast and while there are a few mishaps here and there (this is circus after all), they deliver some exceptional moments. Adam Malone displays incredible control and speed with his acrobatic hula-hoop act, and his head-balancing act on the Washington trapeze to Tinashe's "Bated Breath" can easily be considered to be Spectrum's heart stopping moment.

The song selection is integral to a circus such as this in heightening the emotions and experience being presented. Zoƫ Marshall and Nicole Pienaar's aerial hoop act to Abra's "Thinking of U" is a great example of a song working alongside their intimate choreography and vulnerable body language and expressions to create a clear and affecting story. Regardless of where you sit under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, the stirring response to Marshall and Pienarr's act is a universal one.

Unfortunately this attention to storytelling is not consistent throughout the show, and while the acts themselves are thoroughly entertaining, they often lack the human connection to really bring everything together. Coombs and Will Anton's double cyr wheel act is dramatic to watch but it could have played with these feelings further and gone deeper to create a stronger reaction from the audience. Similarly, Emily Chilvers' corde lisse act has great potential for storytelling but on this evening, it felt distant and vague. 

Spectrum may be a physically and emotionally demanding show, but its talented cast are keenly up for the challenge. The acrobatics on stage lean towards the more innovative and exciting circus on offer today, and it is this that makes Uncovered Circus a circus troupe to definitely keep your eyes on.

Venue: Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St, Albert Park, 3206 
Season: 31 January - 3 February | Wed - Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2:00pm 
Tickets: $32 Full | $26 Conc
Bookings: Midsumma Festival

Photo Credit: Aaron Walker

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