Carnival, clowns, acrobats, storyline, singing, dancing and a whole lot more. This show is sadly Lost.

This production includes all the things you’d hope to see in a ‘classic’ circus-esque cabaret, it just does it awkwardly, and offers nothing new to the medium. For me, if you’re not going to try to add a fresh spin on things, then you’d better do the artform really really well. CLS does and it doesn’t. The major issue for me was the set up of the space. It was awkward and, at times, felt unsafe. Yes this is something you’re meant to experience as an audience member – the fear of them toppling – but for someone who has seen these types of shows all over the world, my fear was real. They did not navigate the space well, and their design worked against them. This was especially true for the ‘cabaret tables’ they’d set up on stage and where I, in fact, sat. Whilst they were trying to recreate the intimacy of a Spegial tent, it just made for poor sight lines. They did not even play to the people sitting there.

Some lovely moments however were found in subtle and unexpected places. The table floating trick, was a beautiful surprise for me, and one that brought some genuine awe and laughter. The role of the Clown was also lovely at times, especially when he was being his most subtle.

However, the amount of male-gaze in this work, particularly given Australia’s ongoing epidemic of domestic violence, is a glaring fault. So are the roles that the women in this work are cast in. The talent on stage is clear, the direction and dramaturgy behind the scenes are stale, clunky and completely out of touch with the contemporary world. The 5-10 minute ‘dance sequence’ between the Ringmaster and his Muse, for example, is completely overwrought. Considering the recent events around #MeToo, there is no excuse for this production’s failure to examine how they dramaturgically position women. If they intend to continue touring this production, my advice is – have a good look at yourself through the smoke and mirrors.

Nick Webber – Theatre Now & On The Town