FringeReview UK 2018

Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus

Circa

Genre: Acrobatics, Children's Theatre, Circus, Clown, Costume, Family, Live Music, Music

Venue: Barbican Pit Theatre, Silk Street, London

Festival:


Low Down

Yaron Lifschitz directs and Quincy Grant scores and fillets Mozart in his own music and Mozart arrangements which tether the routines precisely. Geoff Squires’ lighting, Jason Organ’s technical address and Libby McDonnell’s costumes all convey a flossy child’s world with a whiff of punk attitude.

 

Review

A birthday girl wakes up to a funny present, a black LP. You wouldn’t think a bewigged brat on a bicycle would wheel out of it, would you? You would if you were at the Barbican Pit, though.

 

Kathryn O’Keefe isn’t one to be bowled over by the wig behind the music, and Paul O’Keefe resorts to some phenomenal acrobatics on bike and chairs to persuade her he’s a genius after all. A genius at not toppling over even on four chairs perched on champagne bottles on one hand upside down. Or doing something similar on that bike. So what’s Gareth Chin doing on his accordion? And who’s Circa?

 

Circa’s Wolfgang’s Magical Musical Circus delivers exactly what it says, which is all you could possibly imagine. Except getting showered by pop streamers. This is a sublime way to introduce children to Mozart. Yaron Lifschitz directs and Quincy Grant scores and fillets Mozart in his own music and Mozart arrangements which tether the routines precisely. The recordings aren’t simply taken from orchestral recordings, but a pit-band size with piano.

 

Geoff Squires’ lighting, Jason Organ’s technical address and Libby McDonnell’s phenomenal costumes – candy pink frock coats, waistcoats, that wig, the dress, all convey a flossy child’s world with a whiff of punk attitude.

 

There were twelve numbers, after a intro, one, the fourth being choreographed in total silence. What we get is Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, the genius as brat, and Salieri’s loathing started with the sublimity of the E flat Serenade K361 which after a few dances is what we get. What was heard on the day wasn’t always what’s helpfully listed in the programme, and creative changes have morphed this seamlessly.

 

So that opening to vamp-till-ready Dances where Grant’s music and orchestration perform a curtains-up with the Flute Quartet No. 1 in D K285 slow movement, a delicate filleted thing, moves to:

 

  1. E flat Serenade Grand Quintetto

and a stately intro. Kathryn’s introduced to a stately young Paul for a blink before it goes pop. The performing brio of this pair is phenomenal, of a standard you’d be happy to see anywhere in the world. So would any child.

 

  1. Symphony No. 40 in G minor K550 opening

There bike’s introduced. We see Paul gyrate. And Kathryn, proving herself an astonishing mix of ballet and circus performer.

 

  1. Piano Sonata in A major K331 Turkish Rondo

With this wild exotic imagining in place the true wildness of Mozart gets underway.

 

  1. Silence

this melancholic overlay produced the first cavortings on the bike proper, with a strange undertow of wonder, and worth watching in silence. Both artists

 

  1. Marriage of Figaro Overture K482

This busy overture mirrors the business suddenly speeded up where Mozza throws his first acrobatics with things other than the bike.

 

  1. Serenade in D K320 ‘Posthorn’

At least I think it was! There’s more fo Kathryn’s ballet moves pushed to an extreme.

 

 

  1. Clarinet Concerto slow movement K622

The most sublime moment. Paul/Mozza accidentally strikes Kathryn in slow motion, she hits him back, in fact knees him, all choreographed with sublimity wholly at variance with the furious fight and eventual make-up, all of course reduced to freeze-frame speed. The expressive highlight.

 

  1. Piano Concerto No 21 slow movement K467

Another slow moment, where more and more outrageous things like upside down on the bike with both artists somersaulting and in hold. A kind of contradance to the preceding. Chin’s more involved here as the excellent accordion player, making Mozart’s music accessible in whoosh soundbites.

 

  1. A Musical Joke K522

Here Kathryn tries to dress Mozart who’s come on to his shock wearing underwear, all the while wheeling about. There’s more work for Chin here too who becomes increasingly part of the action.

 

  1. Ein Kleine Nachtmusik K525

The most acrobatic flights of both on the bike yet. Wheeling vertically, upside down in the saddle, both perched on top of it. Scary!

 

  1. Marriage of Figaro ‘Voi che Sapate’ – Cherubno’s aria

Another expressive aria where Paul finds Kathryn can conduct but he can’t, much breaking of batons here.

 

  1. Magic Flute K620 Act 2: Queen of the Night Aria ‘Der Holler Rache kocht in meinem Herzen’

This is that finale involving the use of a table four bottles, and a plethora of chairs, clambered on and added to by Paul as described above. It’s a stupendous finale.

 

The foregoing’s rather a record and guide to a fluid and sweet-natured entertainment that had children comment ‘has he taken his hair off?’ at one point. Later one child found he could wield the baton and conduct. As a index of a child-like creator who can touch heart and head, it’s an ideal introduction to both the music and the man. And did you know he was left-handed? Quite apart from the hard-wired precise info on the music for interested parents, there’s enough in the programme to excite further visits. Though probably not in the pink frock.

Published