Presented by Alderley-based Flipside Circus, ‘Wasteland’ is being shown as part of Wonderland Festival at Brisbane Powerhouse.
Developed by circus artist Chelsea McGuffin, dramaturge Robert Kronk and designer Josh McIntosh it takes place in a post-apocalyptic world with only young people on stage performing. While their physical acumen is impressive there is something poignant about a diseased world left behind to only the young and innocent. It has been pointed out in interviews that Flipside prefers artistic collaboration with their troupe over traditional student-teacher dynamics and that the future was something the young performers were interested in exploring.
The age of said performers range from nine to sixteen, with some real stars in the making. Every performer has trained their body to a high standard of athleticism, some of the older kids are called on to make use of their more developed upper body strength, but the energy of all is relentless in a show that seldom lets up for the audience let alone the performers. Even when slowing down for the ballad ‘Colours Of The Wind’ the singer is still being lifted up in the air and around the stage while nailing the high notes.
One of the youngest performers was called on to make faces and play for laughs in one sequence. As funny as she was, it was far more impressive to see her ad-lib and stay in character jumping off stage to grab her prop that had been accidentally knocked down by an earlier routine.
Production design was particularly impressive with the stage that allowed for all sorts of acrobatics while also setting the look of the world with recycled plastic throughout. During a storm dozens of plastic shopping bags fell from on up high and covered the stage with the children grabbing them for all sorts of purposes. In place of a traditional lyra there is a tyre swing which allows for doing certain movements in a new way. That kind of inventiveness is on display in other ways including an underground tunnel and a very special couch.
There’s barely any dialogue throughout but so many themes are conveyed, the children are overcrowded in their environment at times and at others desperately clinging to each other’s company. So many moods are reflected, there is some humour but also a feeling that the whole world is dying, and these children have been left abandoned by it still surviving but orphaned by our sins. It is also interesting to note that a world where little recycling was done, created one where the children recycle every item they come across for another purpose.
The routines and techniques may not have the scope of some adult troupes but there is little doubt that the next performers for such troupes are in ‘Wasteland’. ‘Wasteland’ is interested in far more important aspects of the future and presents them with heart. A dystopian world is fully realised on a smaller stage that makes greater use of its space. ‘Wasteland’'s story is not limited or out of place with the ages of its cast but more effective because of them. Flipside Circus have played to their strengths and pushed for more with endless creativity and ambition. They have succeeded; ‘Wasteland’ features not just stars of tomorrow but stars of today.