By Kate Wilson
The BREC stage was transformed into a construction site for tonight's performance of Cranked Up by the super-flexible Circuz Oz team.
Any performance that starts with a piano hanging in mid-air is pretty much guaranteed to impress me. And when that piano is played by a boss like Ania Reynolds, I'm like, double-impressed, with a cherry (balancing precariously) on top.
I've long been of the opinion that circus is one of the highest forms of art, and not just because of the aerial work. Heart, mind and body are dedicated to the circus arts, and the performers make it their life's work to share something exciting, funny, daring and beautiful with audiences of diverse ages and backgrounds.
Tonight I saw a table spinning being spun around by feet, six people riding one bicycle, a girl spinning upside-down by her leg at the speed of light, a terrible card trick, a storytelling kangaroo, an air guitar competition and a fabulous man with a (thankfully fake) mullet telling me, "Don't be jealous, be inspired." And so much more!
There were three major things I loved about this show: the the music, the theme and a man named Mason West.
I'll start with the music. With a lot of people, equipment and movement on the stage, it made sense to have a live soundtrack to keep up the momentum between acts and provide sound effects and upbeat accompaniment for all the action. Some of the musicians were also acrobats, and vice versa. Because apparently it isn't enough to be ridiculously talented at just one thing. At one point the extraordinary Hazel Bock was juggling with one hand whilst playing trumpet in a brass band with the other, with someone pushing down the valves for her.
The construction site theme was spot on for a family show. When someone came out riding on a pallet jack, I bet I wasn't the only person thinking about how I wish I was allowed to do that at work! It's so novel to see people jumping, hanging and flipping around on everyday things like wheelbarrows, ladders and scaffolding. And thanks to the piano that was flown in, even a bit of a candlelit cabaret was possible in the middle of it all.
Which brings me to Mason West. While Ania on piano dazzled my ears (can ears be dazzled?… they can now), Mason owned the Chinese pole, exhibiting the strength of a dozen men as he climbed and spun. Later, he thrilled the audience with a Rola Bola performance, which is the one where the performer stands on a plank which stands on a cylinder which stands on another cylinder and so on. Whilst balancing on a couple of layers of cylinders, Mason proceeded to put his arms and legs through a couple of hoops. Seriously?! How is this even possible? Ahh, the magic of circus!