Acrobat have had a long and impressive career at the cutting edge of Australian circus. Founded twenty years ago, their bold and innovative works have been toured across Australia and throughout Europe, where they've won (“despite their belligerence”, says the program) an impressive collection of (“borgeouis”) awards.
Not that you need to know any of that to enjoy It's Not For Everyone, their newest show, but their long and intimate history with circus, acrobatics and clowning is certainly an integral part of the fabric of the show. It's not easily described as any of those things, though – physical theatre seems to be the closest descriptor, with a touch of performance art.
The piece is structured around the tradition that acrobats, as they get older, become clowns instead – this sense of decay persists, with the show beginning to careen off the rails almost as soon as the performers reach the stage. Sparse but effective use of verbal langauge, a rich and varied soundscape of music and effects, and a set that complements and enhances the work of the performers without ever overshadowing them. We travel through a range of strange and unsettling places and end up in the elemental mud.
There's a lot going on here. The production company have a history of political theatre, and there are teeth in the bizarre onstage shenanigans. The audience were uneasy at least as often as they were laughing (and often at the same time). This show was dark, visceral, self-deprecating, hilariously funny and deeply unsettling. And it almost goes without saying that the physical performances were exceptional — it's a delight to watch performers of this calibre simply walk across the stage, not to mention all the impossible rest.
It's Not For Everyone — it may not be for everyone, but then you're not everyone, are you?