Sunday 22 September 2019

PHAT CAB CLUB - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Performed in the iconic Melba Spiegeltent, PHAT CAB CLUB present a night of remarkably talented young circus artists that give more established ones a run for their money. Set to a lively hip-hop soundtrack, there are a variety of acts on display that showcase the troupe's strength, dexterity and flexibility.

A mesmerising diabolo routine by Jordan Twartz has us gasping at the speed and complexity he achieves and his return for a brief "puppet" double-up with acrobat/dancer Mark Longo is a well-conceived idea and would have loved to see similar pairings reoccur. Hula-hoops are often a staple of circus and easily lose their appeal, but Anna Fisher ensures there are surprises in her number to draw us in and have us excited about what is possible with these objects.

The rest of the ensemble - Antonia Sassine Emily Chilvers, Joe Fisher, Odette Robbins - excel in their various juggling, balancing and contortion. Rhys Davies as MC does well with the self-deprecating humour and his mini-tricks between the main entertainment. However, he does leave you wondering why someone would want to let off a mousetrap on the most sensitive part of his body.

Even though the acts are impressive and there is incredible promise from this group, their overall style and presentation need to be reconsidered to make this show stand out from others. Some of the best circus I've seen has the performers actively engaging with the audience throughout their acts but this was generally not happening, putting up a wall between them and us. An unnecessary ten-minute intermission diminishes the atmosphere created and it would be far better to go through its 60 minutes without stopping.

The costuming in PHAT CAB CLUB is also disappointing with the women often dressed in tight, revealing and sparkling costumes - one performer even goes topless at one stage - and the men are in standard jeans and shirts. Their choice of outfits gives the impression they are simply wearing what they put on that morning. There is no uniformity or running theme with their clothing choices, which impacts on the aesthetics of the evening.

While there is room for improvement, the artists themselves exhibit significant skill and knowledge with what they are doing. They are taking bold risks and chances and that is what makes great circus. Once PHAT CAB CLUB begins to take into consideration all the other elements of a circus production, it will elevate their show to something much bigger.


Venue: Melba Spiegeltent, 35 Johnson Street, Collingwood
until 28 September | Thurs - Sat 9:30pm

Duration: 60 minutes
$35 Full | $30 Conc | $26 Group 6+
Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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