Review: London Calling @ Adelaide Fringe 2024

'London Calling'
Kara is a classically-trained freelance cellist become arts critic. She loves chatting with artists from all walks of life, watching shows and performing in them, and weaving words and experiences into stories for scenestr. She and her partner teach a bunch of inspired young kids from their Adelaide home studio and she is ‘mumma’ to some special little girls.

It is not often you’re moved to tears by a Fringe show but on this night, during Director and showman Paul Dabek’s hand shadow puppetry segment, this diamond of a show, ‘calling’ in all the way from London, did exactly that.

For anyone familiar with the alleys of London, it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane and for those who aren’t, it’s a wander into the imagination, uncovering the marvel and magic of this eclectic city in a small circus tent where you feel as though you’ve left reality at the door and have been transported into another place in time for a moment, as the audience comes to a stand-still in awe of the mind-bending illusion presented before them.

An enchanting cast of some of the most critically-acclaimed magicians from all corners of the globe in their fields, curated by Las Vegas-based magician, Paul Dabek, are brought together in one spellbinding show presented in a series of shape-shifting segments.

Antje Pode has travelled from Frankfurt, Germany to twirl mannequins and suitcases like The Sugar-Plum Fairy in a strange, yet very impressive skill. Sam Goodburn is what you get when you cross half a bicycle with a crate of Red Bull, levelling up stunts on a unicycle from ‘Morning’ to ‘Satisfaction’ at the end of the day following the completion of the game of life. Charlie Chaplin-esque character, Charlie Chaper, delightfully whisks us away to the corner of James Street in Covent Garden under a single lamp post in the dark of night, where we’re treated to a disappearing act. Chelsea Angell takes flight at Heathrow Airport with a lucid hula hoop routine, dating back in time to a psychedelic '60s era.

Of course, it wouldn’t be London without moseying down the West End to one of the most iconic Broadway productions transformed into that stunning shadow-puppetry routine by Paul Dabek, finishing off with the riches of royalty set at Buckingham Palace as Shaunah Johnson ‘defies the laws of gravity’ with an aerial performance only fit for a queen of sorts.

In a world where we are seemingly able to uncover the secrets to just about anything, or feel as though we have the answers to the most complex questions at hand; where things can be explained by ‘science’ almost too easily, 'London Calling' rings in on an inclination in the observer that some things are best left unexplained in order to keep a little of the magic we are conditioned to ‘grow out of’ as adults, sentient.

Perhaps there is a possibility that some things undeniably can’t be explained at all, and this is one of those shows where you feel you are sitting with the mystic.

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