Stories From the Sky
Judith Wright Centre
April 14 – 18 2015
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Fresh-faced, fit and FEARLESS!
Flipside Circus is always great holiday entertainment. We love that the performers are young (aged between 11 and 18) and they are indeed, fearless. Stories From the Sky is testament to the solid training and high level of confidence that translates on stage as zero hesitation when it comes to aerial or wheel apparatus tricks, and no concern about tumbling, leaping and climbing all over each other to create an interesting, challenging and entertaining show for the whole family.
There’s a sense of discovery; of natural exuberance and simple joy in a Flipside show, making it an ideal first circus show for kids and an enjoyable repeat experience.
Poppy and I often take one of her friends to the circus but we had committed to an airport run right after the performance so this time it was a mama-daughter date. Our homestay student’s flight was delayed so we were able to stay and play after the curtain call before meeting her at the domestic terminal. (She went for a week up north, doing all those lovely touristy things that we forget to do because we live here). Poppy leapt at the opportunity to join other young audience members in the Shopfront to have some fun hula hooping and plate spinning. She’s no stranger to the circus, but unlike the performers we saw in the show, she doesn’t practice the tricks for hours each week! In fact, she probably shows vague discipline three times a year: at Flipside, at Circa and at Woodford Folk Festival! Our philosophy is clearly, “No pressure. Keep it fun.”
The loose thread running through this production is the notion that we all have our own stories and we are each our own story. Each performer has their story, which they share with us at various intervals throughout the show. A microphone descends from above and there is opportunity for comedy as it is raised and lowered and the kids contort their bodies to speak into it. The stories are simple and lovely and funny, and it’s good to hear confident, natural voices. It’s easy to forget that our bodies and voices are connected!
Before the show we were given the opportunity to fold paper airplanes, which we were told we would need during the performance. When the time came I heard kids who didn’t want to give up their planes, and kids who wanted to run down to the stage and retrieve their planes. Poppy proudly launched hers and laughed when it twirled and turned back to us, landing in the lap of a mum sitting in the row in front. Tonight we’re off to see Matthew Ryan’s new play, Brisbane. (Another mama-daughter date to coincide with the adventures of #niciinthecity). Watching Stories From the Sky I thought of the hero shot for Brisbane; Dash Kruck gleefully “flying” a wooden plane and of the playwright’s note, “We all want back what is lost.” (You can read the program online thanks to QTC’s greenification of the company’s operations). It strikes me that Stories From the Sky is a gentle reminder that it doesn’t take much to get back a bit of what is lost.
I love the joy of the duo work and the strength and trust of the ensemble work. The tissu is (once again) Poppy’s favourite act, and we are both blown away by the balance, focus, power and promise of vibrant fifteen-year-old gymnast/contortionist/aerialist, Riley. What an entertainer! Riley is a wonder and it will be no wonder to see him featured in professional circus in this country. Circus is clearly his THING.
Cirque du Soleil is renowned for offering exquisite art, athleticism and escapism at an elite level but it’s from within the ranks of dedicated companies such as Flipside that it begins.
Flipside Circus offers full training and school holiday workshops just for fun. The Performance Program offers 8 – 18 year olds the chance to develop advanced circus skills and perform in the annual production.