Anyone dreaming of running away to join the circus should know the Flying Fruit Circus runs a school in New South Wales that offers world-class training in circus arts with students from the age of 8 to 18 producing amazingly accomplished shows that tour the world.
Its latest offering, Junk, was a stunningly spectacular and engagingly intimate showcase of the circus arts. The show is cleverly themed around the unsupervised rough-and-tumble children experienced before government regulations and parental anxiety corralled youth into the deadening conformity of "safe spaces".
Opening in a junkyard setting with youngsters enjoying the simple pleasures of cartwheels, forward-rolls and somersaults, the performance spiralled into a wildly exuberant display of athleticism and precisely choreographed acrobatics.
The most spectacular, gravity-defying stunts were carried off with a nonchalant ease that highlights the disciplined training programme the young cast undertake to achieve such levels of skill and professionalism.
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What makes the show so engaging is the intricate choreography which has the entire cast participating in creating and setting up the stunts. Two or three children jumping on one side of a see-saw provides the explosive propulsion for backward flips and somersaults while another group holds the catching mats for the landings. In a similar fashion, a superb display of aerial acrobatics was supported by a team on a tug-of-war style rope that launches and lands the trapeze artists.
The set and costume design beautifully evoke the make-do ambience of a 1940s' childhood and a wonderfully array of junk-yard objects are inventively deployed in sequences that follow the joyful rhythms of big-band jazz tunes.
The Auckland Arts Festival has made an admirable commitment to searching out shows that will appeal to young audiences and in Flying Fruit Circus it found an absolute gem.
Where: Bruce Mason Centre
Reviewer: Paul Simei-Barton