Absinthe Tour Le Monde
King George Square under the Spiegeltent
June 8 – 28 2015
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
Well! THAT HAPPENED. Absinthe Tour Le Monde is here and you might as well get carried along by the hype and go see it because you’ll never believe a single voice that says this is very possibly not the best show you’ll ever see. And that’s okay, because you should always find out for yourself if a thing is your thing.
After several seasons in NYC, a four-year sold-out residency in Las Vegas and a season on top of the Crown Casino in Melbourne, it’s Brisbane’s turn to be entertained and appalled by Spiegelworld’s Absinthe Tour le Monde. It could be the sexiest, most incredible, beautiful show in the world, trumping others of its ilk, including a good portion of Cirque’s older repertoire and the spectacular, truly sexy La Soiree, but it doesn’t come close and it clearly never wanted to be anything like its sophisticated cousins.
If you don’t like to hear the word FUCK then you are at the WRONG FUCKING SHOW.
HA! THAT SETS THE TONE. This show is a seductive, double-headed creature that won’t bite until you get too close to get away. And I mean that literally. In Brisbane the beautiful old-world Spiegeltent seats a crammed 700 so good luck getting outta’ there if you’re offended! Or you suddenly decide that you probs should NOT have brought the 15-year-old despite assurances that it’s suitable for 15+ (What are the mummy bloggers saying about Absinthe? I assure you it’s more appropriately rated 18+ but whatevs. You parent your children your way). Of course, the trick is to drink enough in the garden bar before the show to be carried along by the raucous laughter of the lowest common denominator. If you need to be carried out of there you’ve probs had just enough. CHEERS.
THIS HASHTAG’S FOR YOU @jakinshakin
You might decide it’s worth cringing and gasping through the puerile comedy for the sake of the superb acts. The artists are some of the best in the world, there’s no doubt about that, but the bits in between? Well, you’ll have to make up your own mind about this brand of humour. If you’re smack bang in the middle of the target demographic, what I say won’t make a difference to your experience of the show. YOU’LL LOVE IT! But you should know that I’m that person at a party who leaves the party before the last line is snorted, rather than stay past 2am to hear the sort of drunken misogynist, racist, ego-driven drivel we hear from the Gazillionaire and his crass assistant, Abby Bobbins. Of course it’s all an act (OR IS IT?). I know. I’m missing the point.
PERHAPS I’M ON A DIFFERENT JOURNEY.
I’ve never understood the appeal of saying something offensive to get a rise out of people. Or shocking the shit out of audiences with extreme/extremely ridiculous sexual fantasies about unicorns with flaccid penises on their heads that become… no, I can’t even tell you the rest. Like most of the hosts’ segments, this story starts out in a vaguely alluring, mildly amusing manner and then Abby takes it too far. Oh! This is what they mean by “risqué”. I see… I see some audience members on opening night looking a little uncomfortable, and laughing because UNCOMFORTABLE. The other six hundred and seventy-three punters are genuinely laughing to bring the Spiegeltent roof down. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?
The insults that fly from the Gazillionaire’s mouth are not cleverly subversive, his attitude and his manner are not hip and edgy, and there’s nothing new or insightful or witty or brilliant about any of the racial and religious slurs or cruel observations of audience members. (The inclusion of a lap dance competition is an awkward epic fail on opening night, laughable for all the wrong reasons. BUT EACH PARTICIPANT FROM THE AUDIENCE SCORES A FREE DRINK. SO THAT’S ENTERTAINING ISN’T IT?).
Just as he is supposed to be, Gaz is a filthy-rich, downright filthy philistine, homophobic, sexist and racist. These traits are supposed to be the basis of the character’s appeal. Call me old fashioned or new age or naive, but I don’t see whom this subterranean level of disrespect serves.
For those of us who stay sober throughout the generous pre-show proceedings on opening night, both hosts are offensive and tedious. #ishouldhavedrunkmorechampagne
We suffer through the cheap banter because the skilled artists performing incredible acts of balance and strength and poise are absolutely thrilling to watch, especially at such close range, and they deserve our respect. Likewise, the iconic Kylie-esque Green Fairy (WAAPA graduate, Karla Tonkich) is fabulously raunchy in her tattered wings and very little else, and in fine voice.
Other highlights include the stunning duo straps routine performed with extraordinary elegance and romance by Maika Isogawa and Jacob Oberman, and the sexy schoolgirl – and by sexy schoolgirl I mean hold-your-breath-holy-double-hotness-batman – aerial hoop duo from Germany, Laura von Bongard & Luka Clayborn. The Frat Pack (Paul Lopez, Paul Resell & Olesky Snarskyy) defies gravity on the High Wire, Andrei Sizonenka & Aliasandra Yurkavets defy death, hurling themselves across the horizontal bars, and Gaz’s gorgeous bodyguards (Michael Nowosadko & Zbignew Sobierajski) perform a nonchalant strip and an incredible hand balance routine, the ultimate in precision, strength and control. With over 70 amazing circus artists on his books, Ross Mollison knows how to pick a winner. But it’s clear he doesn’t believe the acts are enough.
Originally directed by Australia’s Wayne Harrison, Absinthe Tour le Monde is a little bit of evil genius with all the mechanisms in place to ensure it will continue to conquer the world. It’s a magic formula that obviously appeals to the masses. I ‘reckon that even if you realise you hate the same crass and unapologetically politically incorrect parts that I find unnecessary, you’ll prefer to remember you loved it. It’s easier. IT’S SO MUCH EASIER THAN BOTHERING TO EXPLAIN WHAT MISSED THE MARK. TRUST ME.
If you haven’t booked your tix yet for Absinthe Tour le Monde, I suggest you pay top dollar to sit ringside, do the whole experience properly (get properly drunk), and proclaim its brilliance. Everybody else is!