But Wait … There's More. Circus Oz. Canberra Theatre. Until September 26. Bookings: canberratheatrecentre.com.au
But Wait … There's More is an exceptionally eclectic show. There are plenty of straight circus acts – tumbling, clowning, trapeze, juggling, balancing, bike-riding, the lot, really. Along with those acts we get several items that are straight out satire or comedy routines, a bit of sexual innuendo, some Canberra chit-chat, and one great song, More, that is a real musical comedy moment.
But there is also a theme to the show. The title comes straight from those television commercials where more and more items are on offer if you get in quickly with your order. The trouble is, this theme of consumerism and commodification appears spasmodically, sometimes strongly and sometimes scarcely at all, throughout the show. As a whole, But Wait …There's More is frustratingly uneven in its focus.
Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy. It is always fascinating to enter the auditorium a little early for circus events to watch the performers engage with the audience as they take their seats. The Circus Oz cast is especially good at walking along the backs of seats, selling programs, and generally chatting about nothing in particular. There is nothing mysterious either about what is happening behind the curtain because the curtain is already up. And similarly the curtain stays up at intermission as the floors are swept and the technicians and other backstage personnel work on setting up for the second half.
Of the acts in the show itself, I especially enjoyed the female clown who seemed to be a ditherer if ever there was one, but whose constant presence was a little through line that managed to hold the disparate elements together. It was a similar situation with her male counterpart, whose presence onstage was always powerful. There was some tricky work by a gentleman riding a small mountain bike, a lovely slow and controlled trapeze act towards the end of the show, and a juggling act with several white balls that were tossed, caught and balanced with particular skill.
Perhaps the distinguishing feature of Circus Oz is the versatility of the performers. From riding a bike to playing a triangle, from balancing on a tower of chairs to playing electric guitar, it all seems par for the course. But what really moved me was the way in which respect was paid to the traditional owners of the land on which the performance took place. It was beautifully built into one of the early acts and not only did the performers offer their respect, they developed the act so that the audience was also involved. A theatre full of Canberrans shouting "respect" is something to see and hear.