Review: Circus Oz shows us what it really means to be Australian in electrifying new show Model Citizens (Performances until July 16th)

I’ve been to many a circus show over the years where death defying acts are the norm however, this brand new concept show from Circus Oz has me feeling mighty proud of the creativity and ingenuity of our Australian creatives. Set under the Big Top along Birrarung Marr, the show begins with host Mitch Jones asking a couple of pretty important questions: “Have you ever wondered what makes us, us? And who are we anyway? Well tonight, we’re going to take you on a journey into the world of the model citizen.”

Circus Oz Artistic Director Rob Tannion has created a show that highlights and plays on our distinct Aussie humour in the form of original songs and stereotyped characterisations. This is so much more than just a circus show; this is a farcical look at the myths of modern Australia and exploring what it really means to be a model citizen in our lucky country today.

The cast of 15 athletes demonstrate their unique and specialised circus skills in unconventional ways, playing with over-sized, everyday objects as a part of their ‘model-kit’. It takes this art form to new levels and makes you think not only about your self identity, but also our cultural identity. Set to a score of amazing live music, and even a couple of original songs including one about our beloved Webber, the quirky additions to the shows overall vision were genius. Every member of the company had a purpose on that stage and shared with us their talents that to us seem unfathomable.

“To enhance the audience’s experience within the gorgeous Big Top, we want to go large. More flavour. More mouth-watering circus. More spectacular moments. A bigger set. More original music. More stunning lights. And importantly, new acts from incredible national and international artists,” explained Tannion.

Each act was mesmerising in its own way but there were a few standouts which broke against the traditional expectations of their specialised skill. Coming out of a tiny box was juggler Olivia Porter who beautifully combined contemporary dance with hacky sack prowess. Juggling is impressive but the fact she was able to blend it with dance made it all the more entrancing. Luke Ha defied gravity as he constructed a four storey house of cards, or should I say credit cards. The narrative that went with this was hilarious, but the guy is certified insane! You definitely have to see this one to believe it.

There is no doubt that contortionist Jarred Dewey is a star and his solo performance, which featured iron shoes bursting with steam and all, showed just how intricate his movements are. He made his twisting and turning look all the more fluid, but it is the maturity of his artistry that makes him stand out amongst the rest. We’ve all seen a tight rope walker but not like this. Alexander Weibel Weibel is a master of the slack ropes, which means at least six ropes at one time. What started off as a conservative rope stunt turned into a spinning web of true strength. He also played the violin at the same time. Seriously amazing! A pleasant surprise to round out the show.

Circus Oz has managed to revitalise traditional circus art into an emotionally charged social piece represented through movement and song. Below is a full run down of each act throughout the show.

Act 1

  • Welcome – Mitch Jones
  • Aerial slings – Tania Cervantes Chamorro
  • Silks – Roseanne Chalker McCann
  • Peg acrobatics – Jake Silvestro, Lachlan Sukro, Steph Mouat, Luke Ha and Mitch Jones
  • Weber song – Jeremy Hopkins (musician)
  • Contortion irons – Jarred Dewey
  • Knives – Mitch Jones, Freyja Edney and Alexander Weibel Weibel (on violin)
  • Cyr wheel – Jake Silvestro
  • Hoops – Freyja Edney
  • House of credit cards – Luke Ha

Act 2

  • Straitjacket escape – Mitch Jones
  • Trapeze – Jarred Dewey
  • Intolerance song – Freyja Edney
  • Juggle – Olivia Porter
  • Handstands – Steph Mouat
  • Safety pin pole – Luke Ha, Lachlan Sukro and Jake Silvestro
  • Slack ropes – Alexander Weibel Weibel

Photos by Rob Blackburn

Model Citizens is playing at the Big Top along Birrarung Marr until July 16th. For tickets and more info head here.

The reviewer attended the performance on June 22nd.