Review: Cranked Up
Sitting in a big tent watching nimble twenty-something’s perform amazing feats is not a bad way to start the year. That said, thank God for air-con.
A big part of Circus Oz’s appeal is their unpretentiousness. They wear their hearts (and their politics) on their sleeves and the audience is made to feel they have a stake in OUR national circus. Even before the show begins, the company is mingling with the punters. I strike up a conversation with a tall redhead and promise to clap loudly if I see anything on stage I can’t do. This means I spend the next two hours striking my hands together to make a sharp sound.
Circus Oz– celebrating their 35th year – has hoisted canvas in Tumbalong Park, where the uniquely skilled ozettes ply their craft in a revised work built around the theme of ‘construction’. Taking inspiration from Charles C. Ebbets’ famous black and white photograph from the 1930’s Lunch atop a Skyscraper, the action unfolds around a huge steel girder with safety harnesses notably absent. This is definitely a show where danger and fun find each other. Since they are meant to be ‘on-site’ they twist, flip and tumble in splattered overalls and headscarfs. Their props are tool belts and hard hats. On this fantastical building site they are also asking us to imagine from the ground up a vision for Australia more committed to diversity and inclusivity.
Cranked Up allows for the individuality of the troupe members to shine and of course, they’re as versatile as all hell, picking up instruments when they’re not pulling things in and out of the show.
Several specialist solo spots were highlights; Mason West emerging from a grand piano dressed in a short leather apron, was definitely one. Later, he returns - six metres up a sway pole. Then afterwards, he defys gravity by balancing on a pile of plastic drain pipe off-cuts.
Hazel Bock is an elegant juggler even when tossing a table with her feet, while Spenser Inwood’s suspended hoop work clearly shows the girl knows no fear. Bec Matthews’ drum solo blew me away. A few fumbles at other moments didn’t seem to faze those sitting in the dark; in fact, perseverance was greeted with the loudest applause.
A little rough and ready but I loved it.
Cranked Up by Circus Oz is on until January 27 at The Big Top, Darling Harbour. Bookings: www.circusoz.com