- Kelly Apter
- 9 August 2018
Acclaimed circus company does it for the kids
Each year, Australian circus troupe Circa heads to the Fringe with a new and improved way to demonstrate its skill. Whether it's through acrobatics, aerial work or hula hooping, you know you'll see beauty and strength in equal measure.
But this year the company is doing things a little bit differently. An hour in Circa's company still spells first-class lifts, stretches and tumbles, but with a young audience to entertain, they've also thrown some slapstick and silliness into the mix.
With nobody around to help celebrate her birthday, Kathryn O'Keeffe slumps in a chair and puts on some classical music. Seconds later, Mozart (aka her real-life husband Paul O'Keeffe) appears in frock coat and wig, and the fun begins.
Accompanied by Gareth Chin on the accordion playing new arrangements of Mozart's music, they help and hinder each other, fall out and make up, but ultimately become fast friends.
Circa is known for its impressive acrobatics, and there's no shortage of that here: with the O'Keeffes balancing on top of each other (and often it's him standing on her); circling the stage on a bicycle while getting dressed; or stacking chairs high and giving us that sharp intake of breath when they're successfully scaled. 'Don't do it!' shouts one child cautiously, 'that's tricky', acknowledges another.
Such bravery and skill is a given with Circa – what we've seen less of, but is ably demonstrated here, is the company's ability to get the kids giggling, rather than gasping. But a simple yet effective routine involving a misbehaving spotlight that keeps moving becomes increasingly funnier, as does the slow-motion fight scene. A great introduction to contemporary circus, and Mozart, for younger audiences.
Underbelly's Circus Hub, until 25 Aug (not 20), 2pm, £12–£14 (£11–£13).