Saturday 22 June 2019

Wunderage review

In a stunning collaboration between Circus Oz and Company 2, contemporary circus is seen in an exhilarating new light with their show Wunderage. With a focus on balance, this immersive show has the performances leaping off the stage and heading straight into the audience. This fresh concept of no seats and no barriers elevates Wunderage to being a truly unique experience resulting in an awe-inspiring evening.

Being able to walk around and in some cases stand directly under the performers as they balance themselves on a tightrope might be novel for audiences, but one can only imagine what this is like for the performers who are able to clearly see every movement and hear every word from the wide-eye crowd. Even in such close proximity, the ensemble - Phoebe Armstrong, Jess McCrindle, Kane Peterson, Chelsea McGuffin, Dylan Singh, Lachy Shelley, David Trappes and Skip Walker-Milne - remain extremely focused on their routines but actively engage with the audience when roaming through the space.

Due to the immersive element of the show, there are limits to the type of acts that can be performed but a stand out feature is how they have taken routines and adapted them to suit the theme and environment and transforming them into something original and inspiring. Highlights of the evening include the Shoulder Pole act by Walker-Milne and Trappes, where the pair takes balancing to new heights. Their humour and combined strengths are a winning combination and I have my fingers crossed for future works by the duo.

McGuffin presents acrobatic feats that many of us would only dare dream about, and she does it with a huge smile on her face. Along with McCrindle and Armstrong, their effortless looking Three Women on a Wire act is a perfect example of one small change transforming the act into something distinctive as they balance on a tightrope in heels. Walker-Milne and Armstrong's duo pole act has the audience bear witness to a thrilling and at times gravity defying high-paced acrobatic routine that relies on precision timing and body placement. 

Music is an integral part to circus and in Wunderage it becomes inextricably linked to the performances. Instruments are placed throughout the space and musicians, Grant Arthur and Bonnie Stewart, are required to get in amongst the crowd as they move to each one. Their music and sublime vocals are the emotional underpinning of the performances particularly evident in Walker-Milne's Handstand Tower act.

Company 2 and Circus Oz have found the ultimate venue for Wunderage at the Meat Market in North Melbourne, opening up its space to build an authentic carnival/sideshow setting. The concrete cobbled ground, the high ceilings and storefronts on the walls significantly contribute to the design of this environment.

Circus is an opportunity to leave the realities of your life and get swept away by the magic of what you are witnessing. What makes Wunderage special is that it lets your reality and the magic combine, allowing each one to seep into the other. As you leave the Meat Market, you can definitely feel some of that magic coming with you. 

Venue: Meat Market, 5 Blackwood St, North Melbourne
Season: until 30 June | Thurs - Sat 7:30pm, Sat - Sun 2.30pm
Tickets: Adult $49 | Conc $39 | Under 30 $35
Bookings: Circus Oz

Image Credit: Aaron Walker  

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