The Black Blues Brothers Review @ Adelaide Fringe 2020

Published in Arts News  
'The Black Blues Brothers' 'The Black Blues Brothers'

In this circus tribute to the cult classic 'Blues Brothers' movie, which starred John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, the mind-blowing stunts and flips are performed by five charismatic African acrobats rather than police cars.

The performers flip over tables, flop from great heights, and almost fry beneath a flaming limbo stick. Circo e dintorni’s 'The Black Blues Brothers' wowed the Pope, now they are here to win over Adelaide, the city of churches.

'The Black Blues Brothers' opens with the refrains of the 1930s jazz standard ‘Dream A Little Dream of Me’ as a trio of bar staff sway slowly, while one sweeps the floor. It’s a pretty tune, but not one that is conducive to high flying acrobatics. Someone grabs the remote control and changes the channel; jazz makes way for the blues, and the performers, now dressed in the trademark black fedora, glasses and suit and tie of the Elwood brothers, begin unleashing a flurry of flips, and they only briefly stop to change the tune for the remainder of the show. While the late, great John Belushi was a high school gymnast, he could never quite backflip like this quintet of stars.

While 'The Black Blues Brothers' does feature many of the famous tracks from the 1980 film, such as Ray Charles’ ‘Shake A Tail Feather’, the show isn’t exclusively a homage to the film’s iconic soundtrack. When the troupe strip-tease down to attire more suitable for circus, for example, Joe Cocker’s ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’ which featured prominently in ‘The Full Monty’, is the backing tune.

Black Blues Brothers 20202

When paying tribute to characters that began in a sketch on 'Saturday Night Live', there needs to be comedy too. This starts out a little flat in the early stages but gathers pace as you become more familiar with the artists and their humour; by the end, it is very funny. Skilful use of audience interaction helps.

All the familiar acrobatic circus skills are on display; handstands, human pyramids, diving through hoops, gymnastic bounding, balancing at death-defying heights. The humble skipping rope, though, provides one of the more innovative and spectacular segments of the show.

After 600 performances in 200 cities, it is time for Adelaide to give the Black Blues Brothers some lovin’.

★★★★☆

'The Black Blues Brothers' plays The Cornucopia at Gluttony – Rymill Park until 15 March.

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