The Defiant Review @ Adelaide Fringe 2023

'The Defiant'
An avid writer, Trista has been contributing reviews, interviews, and articles to scenestr since 2016 and is building a career as a freelance writer.

From the ashes of a post-apocalyptic world, a new group of warriors rise. They are fierce, they are strong, they are. . . ‘The Defiant.’

Created by and featuring an all-female (and female identifying or non-binary) cast and crew, ‘The Defiant’ flips traditional ideals of femininity on their head and smashes gender stereotypes in an exciting fusion of circus, physical theatre and live rock concert.

Over the course of 60 minutes the audience bears witness to an impressive series of acrobatic routines and traditional circus acts including aerial ribbons, trapeze and my personal favourite, the Cyr wheel. Incredible human pyramids rise up before the audience’s eyes, gravity-defying stunts are performed in the air and on the ground without a safety harness or net in sight and bodies leap, fall and are thrown across the stage in a series of precision acts which appear to throw safety and regard for one’s body completely out the window.

Each tightly choreographed and perfectly executed routine is designed to showcase the undeniable physical strength of the performers and the fact they never tired despite the demanding nature of the acts is testament to their stamina. There is more than one heart racing moment as the performers push the boundaries of physical possibility, taking risks that – while terrifying – are amazing to witness and you cannot help but be in awe of their skill and bravery.

Each act unfolds against an eclectic soundtrack which combines recorded songs with live music (including original songs) performed by an incredibly talented, at times otherworldly sounding solo vocalist/drummer/guitarist.

A ramshackle structure is the only sign of life on the otherwise desolate stage; serving as both home base for the performers and elevated stage for the show’s vocalist. It is from this structure that the talented acrobats and athletes of ‘The Defiant’ first emerge; clad in tattered clothing in dull tones of grey, black and camouflage green, with subtle hints of bright colours (perhaps meant to symbolise the hidden hope each survivor holds for the new world) barely visible under their layers. Their makeup is reminiscent of the dystopian worlds of 'Mad Max' and each performer casts a unique shadow against the desolate stage.

While thrilling to watch, the show's one downside is the unfortunate placement of floor lighting to the left and right of the stage which can cause a problem for those sitting in the front rows on each side. There were moments when the bright or flashing lights partially obscured my vision and I left the 7 March show feeling like I had missed seeing the full potential of some acts.

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