Sunday 22 September 2019

Aurora review

Circus Oz returns with a new show of "impossibly intricate foot-juggling to hair-raising balances, breathtaking hula hooping to physical comedy that will leave you speechless". Unfortunately while there are elements in Aurora that are well conceived, their exploration of the ice lands of our world and the ensuing acts don't live up to these grand statements resulting in a very average experience.

The set design is quite impressive with its representation of this frozen land and the lighting design by Jennifer Hector superbly captures the atmosphere of this vast body of ice throughout the show, best shown in Shani Stephen's hand balancing act, where along with a smoke machine, creates some stunning moments. Rhian Hinkley's visual projections on the floor of the stage are fun and imaginative and they are incorporated into the routines without ever feeling like it's a gimmick.

You cannot dispute the ensemble's talent and the high level visual and aural aspects of the show, with music performed by the brilliant Jeremy Hopkins and Selene Messinis, so it's disappointing that there is a lack of excitement and originality within the acts themselves. None of them seem to have a "wow" factor and it is all a little too safe for what we've come to expect from Circus Oz. The rope act by Sam Aldham is run-of-the-mill and despite being visually engaging with the costuming and lighting, Adam Malone's routine on the Washington trapeze feels astonishingly pedestrian.

The company has attempted to bring comedy to the forefront of Aurora, more so than other Circus Oz shows, which is perfectly fine but the humour is squarely aimed at children and doesn't have any of that second-level cheeky jokes that only adults would get. At one point we watch a polar bear projectile vomiting and another scene resembles a pantomime send-up with silly humans first chasing, then running away from the bear. The penguin ensemble and the table sliding is a similar act that doesn't hit the mark as you wonder why Malone has been dressed with extra padding to portray the "fat penguin" and subsequently ends up as the clumsiest and most accident prone of the waddle.

With previous productions, Circus Oz has excelled in drawing us into the world of circus with amazing concepts and feats on display. With Aurora, it is unable to replicate this thrill and it results in a mediocre performance that will hopefully melt away from our memories in time for the next production.


Venue: Big Top at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne Gardens.
Season: Until 6 October | Wed- Sat 7:30pm, Sat 1.30pm, Sun 3pm
Tickets: $25 - $60 (plus booking fees)
Bookings: Circus Oz

Image Credit: Mark Turner

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