Life - The Show. Directed by Scott Maidment. Strut and Fret Productions. Spiegeltent Canberra. Canberra Theatre Centre Forecourt. Adults only. Until April 21. canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.
Billed as “a spectacular new Spiegeltent corruption from the people who brought you Blanc de Blanc", this year’s headline act at Spiegeltent Canberra is full of surprises.
Sophisticated, sexy and sparkling with talent, Life - The Show is much more than the customary cocktail of naughty, risqué burlesque, circus and acrobatics with a pumped-up soundtrack and flashy lighting. I found it even more enjoyable than the sometimes impressive but uneven Blanc de Blanc, which felt more like a random series of acts.
Strut and Fret Production’s director Scott Maidment has introduced a central character whose life is humdrum and seemingly pointless. He wakes up, goes to work, comes home, masturbates, goes to bed and the whole cycle starts all over again.
He’s like a laboratory rat, endlessly scurrying inside a rotating wheel. Dutch performer Goos Meeuwsen is the archetypal clown, awkwardly clumsy, naïve, and pathetic, the perfect fall guy. But that is all about to change as the lone figure is surrounded by an array of fascinating and joyously full of life characters to lead him on the path to transformation.
What happens along this journey to affirmation transcends the predictable. Expect the unexpected, be surprised by an imaginative explosion of originality as the company of cabaret and circus artists lead the amazed clown on a journey of self-revelation, finally culminating in a riotous abandonment of inhibition.
In the first half of Maidment’s different take on Spiegeltent headliners, symbolism teases the intellect. Aerialists Elke Uhd and Tim Kriegler perform a mesmerising and beautiful aerial routine in a suspended plastic tube. Helena Bittencourt attaches a vacuum cleaner hose to her nipple.
The second half erupts in a celebration of life with the flamboyant entry of dancers Rechelle Mansour and Hilton Denis as Mardi Gras meets Moulin Rouge. Violent Femmes saxophonist Blaise Garza astonishes as he soars through the air while playing his soulful sax. And Attis Clopton on drums beats out the rhythm of life with his powerful beat.
With a voice to cut diamond and make every song sparkle, stunning jazz singer Lee Taylor follows Meeuwsen’s clown through the trials and tribulations of life’s journey with appropriate numbers like Dream A Little Dream, The Rhythm of Life and A Whiter Shade of Pale. At times I lost the lyrics, and sequences such as the rope routine seemed too long. Occasionally continuity could be tighter, but this is a small quibble.
Life - The Show succeeds because it breaks away from the conventional and jolts the audience into engagement. All the excitement, thrill and wonder of cabaret, circus and clowning ripple through the show, performed by a company, stamped with the calibre of Cirque de Soleil and La Clique. The Spiegeltent Canberra once again welcomes audiences to its wonderland of entertainment.