Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Surreal sketch circus trio from New Zealand presents their wonderfully weird show Rise of the Olive.
Laser Kiwi returns with their newest comedy circus act Laser Kiwi: Rise of the Olive. As the world’s only surreal sketch circus, they present a whirlwind of silliness, physical prowess and clowning. Before the show starts, and in classic Laser Kiwi fashion, the audience receives a piece of paper listing all the different sketches in the show – as well as grading their quality – in order to calm the viewers’ nervousness about the weirdness they are about to witness. One of the main elements of the show will be to lower expectations so they can then subvert them.
Surreal and irreverent sketches of different kinds dominate a significant part of the show, with an astounding commitment to their unreal concepts. Just when the audience might’ve forgotten they are an acrobatic act as well – even though it’s written on the piece of paper – Laser Kiwi hits hard with incredible stunts done as only they can, in the most ridiculous way. They are at their best when they combine their circus and physical talent with genius comedy silliness, while making the crowd doubt their preparedness to attempt a given part, in a classic clowning manner. These parts were rare and could’ve been more frequent. The trio’s talents are not showcased purely within the stage area, as strong audience interaction infuses the show, giving the people some of the funniest moments and turning them into performers as well.
Imogen is a delight to watch, with her unhinged, fairy-faced performances, full of unexpected turns and refreshing expressiveness. She achieves the most impressive acrobatics as well. Zane has perfected the art of having the audience constantly doubt if he knows what he is doing, delivering some of the most hilarious parts. After seeing several of their shows, I still can’t tell if he achieved his stunts by luck or preparation, and that is the beauty of it. Degge is the weirdest of them all, bringing bizarre characters to life and having the most fun, while being the chief proponent of banter. Nevertheless, the true star of the show is the olive, and its rise. In their characteristic Laser Kiwi playfulness, the olive appears multiple times as a character of its own, giving the show the strangest but most fulfilling structure, one that’s full of surprises. The production design is impressive but not excessive, lights, sound and props being masterfully weaved together with elements both native and foreign to the circus.
In 2019 I saw their Edinburgh Fringe show, which was just as impressive. For this year’s show, they have kept a similar structure and the concept of the most memorable sketches but still managed to update them in a way that is fresh and current. They have a format that can be adapted multiple times, giving people the staples but still leaving them in awe. The show is a breath of fresh air and would benefit from a longer run time as it leaves the audience wanting more.
Laser Kiwi is one of the most original shows at the Fringe, combining multiple performance elements in a way so genuine to the trio. To see one of their shows is to be taken on a journey through their wonderfully unique minds.