Strut & Fret's Creative Director, Scott Maidment has again shown he has an aptitude for assembling superbly talented performers for his off-beat festival productions.
With a loose storyline of life, love, loss and marriage, 'Life - The Show' is a 90-minute, two act journey into what are fundamentally abstract concepts. Using all the heart-stopping techniques you’ve come to expect from the creators of such festival hits as 'Blanc de Blanc' and 'Limbo Unhinged', 'Life: The Show' is fast-paced, innovative and funny.
Presented in the magnificent 1920s inspired Spiegeltent, 'Life - The Show' is all about entertainment and eyeball-grabbing stagecraft. While short on narrative, Scott and his cast of internationally acclaimed performers deliver their own warped vision of life with a cheeky blend of cabaret, burlesque, circus arts, dance, theatrics, music and song.
Taking his cues from vaudeville, Scott makes the most of the considerable talent he has on hand -– giving the show’s central role to celebrated Dutch clown Goos Meeuwsen (Cirque du Soleil) who is the brash, rude, anchor man for the show. By allowing Goos the opportunity to provide the comic relief in place of the traditional circus 'clown' character, Scott has neatly sidestepped the practice of having an MC deliver the storyline. In this production, Goos re-imagines the MC’s role with classic slapstick and unabashed tomfoolery. Goos relishes his role and is ably supported by real life clowning partner Helena Bittencourt who has notched up a number of critically-acclaimed shows in her native Brazil.
The show is backed by a live band comprising drummer Attis Clopton, saxophonist Blaise Garza (Violent Femmes), and Sydney based jazz vocalist Fantine Pritoula who collectively deliver some smooth neo-soul sounds that are perfectly suited to the show. And while the soundtrack is a key ingredient, the musical interludes sometimes feel like fillers that provide some visual and aural interest but are superfluous to the real show – the jaw-dropping acrobatics and circus arts which Strut & Fret are best known for. In fact, it is in the transitions between the circus acts that 'Life - The Show' loses its potency and Goos' attempts to engage with the audience start to fall flat.
Simply put, as the thrill created by the circus acts and mesmerising dance routines start to ebb there isn’t enough rich content in between to capture the audience’s imagination until the next eye-popping display of physical prowess. That isn’t to say there aren’t any surprises. Dancers Hilton Denis and Rechelle Mansour deliver some sharp routines and their exciting choreography adds to the overall sense of variety. In a first for circus anywhere, a tantalising and subtly erotic duet is performed with two aerialists working their way inside a giant condom suspended from the roof. The performer’s bodies are as fluid as water as they climb and float above the audience – two sperm vying for space [and life] in the confines of a giant prophylactic.
Amid the chaos and clownery there are moments of sheer brilliance. Aerial performer Tim Kriegler dazzles with his body bending antics on the straps while trapeze artist Elke Uhd captivates with her sensuous physicality on the bars and wires. With its heady mix of circus arts, cabaret, contortion, acrobatics, dance and music, 'Life - The Show' demands attention and even if you think you've seen circus acts before, these performers bring a fresh take to age old skills in an entertaining and engaging show of marvellous music, movement and mayhem. Go see it and smile.