By combining elements of circus, sideshow and burlesque, Australian troupe Circa aim to come up with something greater than the sum of its parts with their new show Wunderkammer. But with a lack of strong cohesion and a selection of routines which mostly stay in familiar territory, Wunderkammer doesn’t push the circus boundaries quite as far as the performers probably intend.
Dressed for the most part in their black lacy girdles (including the men), the seven-strong troupe spin hula-hoops, balance on each others’ shoulders and hang suspended from poles. Their expressions are either blank or flitted with child-like emotion, giving the impression they are strange, almost robotic creatures — a feeling heightened by the sparse industrial set and electro soundtrack.
There are some dazzling moments, such as the effortless pole climbing by two of the male members of Circa; and an impressive and original routine where female bodies are used as skipping ropes. Amongst these, there are some obtuse filler segments involving bubble wrap, and pieces of rubber being used to demonstrate the ultimate in ‘don’t try this at home’ advice.
Circa’s skills are undeniable and the show has a visual allure which gives it a lasting impression. Ultimately however, Wunderkammer’s identity crisis as to whether it is circus, physical theatre or burlesque leaves it slightly confused and confusing — and, despite its obvious wish to be the most daring and enticing circus in town, oddly sexless.
Circa: Wunderkammer is at Underbelly, various times until 25 Aug