Sunday 31 March 2024

Smash It! review (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

Smash It! is the newest show by Circus Oz, a company that has been running since 1978 and considered a leader in the circus arts in Australia. In Smash It!, seven multi-generational performers undertake flips, jumps and tumbles to a live band in a stripped-back production with nowhere to hide.

Ranging in age from early twenties to mid-sixties, each performer 
(Angelique Ross, Celso March, Debra Batton, Leo Pentland, Mozes Heawood, Sharon Gruenert and Spenser Inwood) is given plenty of opportunities to be the star and to fall into the background and support their fellow artist. The highlight is a rope act that sees Heawood spun around at incredible speeds with a captivating lighting design by Gina Gascoigne.

Carl Polke, Chris Lewis and Sophie Dunn, provide an exceptional live score as they build the suspense and excitement of what we are seeing. They switch from a variety of instruments, including drums, guitars, saxophones, violins and trumpets, to elicit a variety of moods and emotions. When slips and falls take place, the band confidently keeps the music going without skipping a beat.

And yes, slips and falls do happen, and one that requires a performer to leave the space (we're later informed they are fine) and that is the nature of circus. What we are seeing is dangerous and there's a reason why these artists are professionals in what they do. While seeing a performer unable to execute a trick isn't fun, it serves as a reminder that just like life, not everything goes to plan all of the time and how we respond and react to that is critical.

Despite the energy and commitment from the cast and the skill of the musicians, Smash It! quickly begins to wear thin as we see acts go on for too long and with little variation. There is only so much hoop-diving one can see and group aerial work where everyone is doing the same thing before it becomes repetitive. There's no clear message about what this show is trying to impart, with a muddled and confusing vision and structure. The comedy also struggles to find laughs and while circus doesn't have to be funny, when you are presenting as part of the Comedy Festival, comedy is a necessity.

Smash It! is ultimately a disappointing turn for Circus Oz and the only thing they end up breaking are our expectations. Circus Oz have done better and can do better, so let's hope this is just a small blip in an otherwise illustrious journey that has spanned 55 years.


Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne
 until 21 April | various days and times
 60 minutes
 $50 Full | $45 Conc | $40 Tightarse Tuesday
 Melbourne International Comedy Festival

No comments:

Post a Comment