Review: Whoever said you shouldn’t discuss politics at a party has clearly never been to RIOT!

There has never been a better time for a show like RIOT!. With politics trending towards the bizarre, North Korea constantly making headlines, and  the #Metoo movement exposing years of endemic abuse,  It seems as if  the world could do with a bit of unadulterated joy. RIOT! does just that, acting as a celebration of the power of the arts in times like these.

Hot off winning the Best Production of the Dublin Fringe Festival, RIOT! brings its cabaret of circus arts, acrobatics, spoken word poetry and Irish dancing to the Melbourne stage. Hosted by Queen of Ireland, Panti Bliss, the show has all the ingredients for a great night out- 80s music, river dance, and a mankini. Yet, it somehow manages to be so much more than that.

The acrobatics are not only physical but tonal. The show seamlessly shifts from a party atmosphere to moments of quiet reflection. If the true meaning of art is to evoke, then this show does exactly that. Over the course of the hour and a half, the audience experiences the full gamut of emotions, with a particular moment of poignancy at the end as the whole cast join together in one last spell-binding song and call to action.

Photo by Jerémy Ghislain

Acclaimed Irish actress, Kate Brennan, acts as the resident street corner poet punctuating each exhilarating performance with powerful pieces tackling everything from gender roles to the power of kindness. With an ammunition belt across her chest and an earnestness in her eyes, Kate’s words serve to emphasis the power of the arts to incite change in troubling times.

But that is not to say it is all politics. Fellow performers include the hilarious Lords of Strut, and Ronan Brady, a former Gaelic footballer who ran away to join the circus. His aerial acrobatics are as entrancing as they are terrifying.In a nice nod to unity, each night the group invite a special local musician, performer, of hero on to perform a solo stage.

Photo by Conor Horgan & Nial Sweeney

RIOT! addresses some complex subject matters in the best possible way; with grace, gravitas and a bucket load of glitter. It will make you laugh, cry and immediately want to go home and download  A-ha’s back catalogue. It is simultaneously a rallying cry of hope for the future, and a bloomin’ good night out.


The reviewer attended the Thursday 8th January show at 6.30pm. More information is available here.