Edinburgh Fringe 2018
This is an acrobatic performance that features the classical music and character of Wolfgang Mozart from Australia’s Circa Contemporary Circus.
Circus traditionally holds an allure not just for kids but also for the kid inside all of us. Who isn’t amazed at what talented acrobats can do with their bodies and their imagination (don’t try this at home!). This show is a two-hander plus an accordionist. It takes a lot of inventiveness to hold the attention of an audience of children with just two performers. These two succeed, except for the entertaining the very littlest ones, who squirm, although the show is advertised for age 3 and up.
The premise is a fantasy world where the female character treasures her recording of Mozart (yes, a record, not a CD or download – how refreshing). She is in her kitchen, where the refrigerator becomes the magical door for Mozart. As she plays the pieces on the record player (remember those?), Wolfgang himself emerges in period costume with a wig, evening coat and baton. He begins to engage her in a variety of acrobatic, dance, and comedy routines. They make the pages of the music score float and come alive as they bring the compositions to life through balletic interpretations, chair balancing, and a bit of juggling.
The dance and movement are impeccably timed to the tempo and tenor of the music. A sad routine is set to a minor arpeggio, which transitions to a major cadence as the female character starts to smile. An accordionist gives the recordings a bit more life by playing some of the passages live with the background music, as well as acting as a foil during some of the sketches.
It is refreshing to hear classical music in a circus setting, especially aimed at kids. There was a good selection of pieces, varying from a clarinet sonata to symphony excerpts.
Although many of the circus skills can be found in other productions, this is an original concept of how to weave the story with those skills. They are both physically strong artists, as evidenced by the balancing and hand-to-hand routines. They inventively turn a standard bicycle routine into his costume change while riding the bike. They play with the spotlights, much like the famous clown, Emmett Kelly. They use mime in many ways, including a clever slow-motion routine. They effectively intersperse sight gags and slapstick with the dance routines. And she is a ballerina on pointe, something unique in the circus environment.
The stage setting is simple but effective, with simple props and a basic kitchen. All three performers take advantage of the full breadth of the stage, giving all of the audience a full show experience. The show could benefit from more music from the accordionist and another acrobat with different skills.
Circa is billed as a family show, but you don’t need to be a kid or bring kids to appreciate the proficiency of these artists in presenting a fresh concept of physical theatre.