Walking on the moon may have been one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind, but with Cirque Stratosphere's spaced themed circus, it's the astonishing feats that we are capable of on Earth that are explored. Producers Simon Painter and Tim Lawson have brought together over 20 performers from around the world to astound and inspire us as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of man walking on the moon.
While the acts have the potential to excite and wow the audience, their execution occasionally results in a lot of style but with very little substance or charisma. Some come across as mechanical with minimal emotional projection. However, when they do work, we are more than eager to jump on board this spaceship. Nicolas-Yang Wang and Shendpeng Nie engage us
with their energised, humourous and thrilling hoop-diving which ups
the ante with each successive dive.
Dimitry Makrushin and Oleg Bespalov display incredible strength and flexibility with their
balancing act and Evgenii Isaev and Natalia Korzhukova's roller skating
act heightens the element of danger and the precarious nature of circus. This is further highlighted in
the heart-stopping finale with Roy Miller and Luis Romero's wheel of death, that left everyone gasping and cheering, unable to take our eyes of them but too nervous to keep watching.
Much is made of the focus on space in this show but it is never fully realised with the performances that take place. The aesthetics and design elements hit the mark, but you can't shake the feeling that some acts were pre-existing ones with the theme tacked on at the end. The lighting by Paul Smith is a constant source of surprise, combining the mysteries of the beyond with the energy of a rave party as it impressively utilises the entire area of Hamer Hall. The loud and thumping soundtrack by DJ Hikuri Roots is mixed on an elevated platform above the stage and brings a pulsating beat to every performance. James Browne's costume designs remain true to the space theme while still finding the freedom to have fun with styles, cuts and colours.
Even with its shortcomings, Cirque Stratosphere is a highly entertaining night out that provides a chance to witness some exceptional circus talents. It's also a reminder that you don't need to look out to the universe to be amazed by what humans can achieve, but simply the space around you.
Venue: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Season: 11 January | Tues - Sun 3:00pm and 7:o0pm
Tickets: Weekday Performances $69 - $109, Weekend Performances $79 - $119.
Bookings: Arts Centre Melbourne
Image Credit: Jordan Munns