Rippling muscles and death-defying acts take centre stage at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall as Cirque Stratosphere performers showcase their amazing acrobatic and aerial talents.
Cirque Stratosphere, the latest production from The Works Entertainment (the creative minds behind Circus 1903, Le Noir, Cirque Adrenalin and The Illusionists), celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.
As a result the show, which is premiering in Australia, has a convincing space theme. Each of the 12 acts incorporates original recordings from NASA together with flashing, multicolored strobe lighting and loud booming music to recreate events before and during the moon landing. Colorful costumes, including space outfits, highlight the fashion of the era.
The training undertaken by the astronauts and the dangers they faced is reflected in the acrobatic challenges undertaken by the show’s 20 international and Australian performers. The historic take-off to the moon by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins is also clearly depicted, along with Armstrong’s moon walk and the reaction of Mrs Armstrong while watching her husband on the television.
While some acts are merely awe-inspiring and graceful, the most memorable look incredibly dangerous. The level of skill in all stunts is obvious.
The most spectacular act of the two-hour show (which includes a 20 minute interval) is the Wheel of Death. It’s easy to see how this act got its name. What Flyers Valencia (Latino performers Roy Miller and Luis Romero) do in and above two circular cages swinging high into the air is both scary and spectacular, eliciting gasps from the audience.
The same could be said for Oleg Spigin’s Washington Trapeze act – especially the move where he balances with just his mouth on the trapeze, far above the stage. As is the case with all acts there are no safety nets or wires, so one wrong move could prove disastrous.
Some of the biggest cheers on opening night came for the Hoop Diving act from Submergence (Nicolas-Yang Wang and Shengpeng Nie). The pair dive, jump, twist and somersault through and over hoops stacked on top of each other. The finale of their routine with five rings is remarkable.
Other highlights include a Pole act by Polina Volchek, who hangs in a wide star shape on the side of a ceiling-high pole held aloft by just her feet and Trio Transcendent’s (Oleksii Balakhchy, Tymofii Chemko and Mykola Mykytchyn) performance of the Russian Bar. The Rocketereers (Denis Kibenko, Dmitrii Stepanov and Nikolai Ermolaev),who use a teeterboard to catapult themselves into the air, and The Galactus Gods’ (Dmitry Makrushini and Oleg Bespalov) Hand to Hand performance are highly memorable.
The circus’ two clowns, Steve Capps as Tape Face and Salvador Salangsang as the Clown, entertain the crowd between acts with plenty of audience participation. If you’re worried about being called up on stage it’s best to book a middle theatre seat – although those who were chosen seemed to enjoy the experience.
Indeed, given the reaction of the audience on opening night, the same could be said for everyone who attended the show. Given Cirque Stratosphere offers the chance to see very talented performers from around the world showcase their amazing agility, strength and bravery in an imaginatively designed stage, that enjoyment is understandable.
Cirque Stratosphere is on at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall until Saturday January 11. Visit Arts Centre Melbourne for more information and tickets. The show then returns to the Sydney Opera House for an encore season from January 14 to January 19.
*Photo credit: Jordan Munns.
Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Cirque Stratosphere as a guest of the producers.
- circus, Melbourne, review
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