Peepshow at Underbelly Festival
Acrobatics, playfulness and sensuality are the key elements at the heart of Circa’s Peepshow. Seven-performers-strong and just over an hour long, the show begins with some mesmerising hula-hooping and then goes on to explore the space from floor to ceiling – literally sometimes, by creating three-people-high human towers – and test the limits of physical flexibility with all kinds of contortions. A powerful soundtrack accompanies the movements, giving choreographed sequences an edge, and almost every number elicits audible gasps from the audience.
Director Yaron Lifschitz explains that the name of the show does not relate to sexual voyeurism, but rather the idea of looking and being seen. The performers move into the spotlight, recede into darkness and reemerge; at times they revel in the audience’s attention, at other times they put on a playful nervousness, and sometimes they dance (and contort) like no one is watching. The strength of the piece is the way it hints at elements of theatre, mime and dance, incorporating an artistic dimension beyond the impressive acrobatics. This branching out into other performing arts ought to be explored further as it would result in a truly distinctive circus experience.
Circa does play around with styles and the show moves from comical to atmospheric, but it stops short in its exploration. The group is one of the leading forces in Australian contemporary circus and they live by the vision that strong physicality is the most powerful vehicle with which to bewitch the audience. In that respect, they cannot be faulted, and the spectators’ frequent oohs and aahs are a testament to the troupe’s incredible skill.
Peepshow would certainly have a stronger impact if the director’s vision had been translated into a more concrete structure and if the allusions to the titular theme were less abstract. Notwithstanding, the Underbelly festival is the perfect frame for such a performance. The big tent hosting the acrobatics, the outdoor bars and funfair atmosphere complete the experience and up the entertainment factor even further.
Photo: The Other Richard
Peepshow is at Underbelly Festival from 27th June until 18th August 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.