Carnival Of The Animals
QPAC, QPAC’s Out of the Box Festival & Circa
January 9 – 13 2016
Reviewed by Xanthe Coward
It’s a joyous, bubbling show and the performers have lovely skills and I am still staggered by them.
– Yaron Lifschitz, Circa AD
Circa is renowned for their fine execution of contemporary circus and their sense of fun and exuberance.
Pure joy pervades this delightful production, inspired by French romantic composer Camille Saint-Saens’ Carnival Of The Animals. Since premiering at QPAC’s Out of the Box Festival in 2014 the show has entertained sell-out audiences throughout Australia, France, Chile and Columbia. It returns to QPAC for a few days only this week, with final performances on Wednesday January 13 – book online to secure the last tickets.
Get 4 tickets for just $79 here.
Carnival Of The Animals is perfect school holiday fare, dished up with generous doses of smiles and laughter, suitable for the whole family. For a full day of fun for everyone head to Southbank Parklands, the museum, the galleries and the State Library of Queensland after the show (Performances at 10am & 12pm). There’s always so much on offer and now you can keep up via Culturist, the new app for Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct, which includes interactive maps, lists of events and playlists. Check it out here.
QPAC is chaotic with kids! But in a good way and the excitable energy is contagious. We colour animal mandalas and Poppy insists on sampling the watermelon slushy. So do I…it’s delicious. We have three generations at the show, and Nanny knows the music and we know Circa so we’re well prepared.
The show is bookended by a magical theatrical event that lets us know WE’RE HERE TO SEE A SHOW. A cleverly choreographed opening sees the acrobats appear with suitcases as soon as they are beckoned to busily set the stage. Suddenly we’re in the Big Top where anything can happen. It’s glee inducing magic of the theatre. Sixty minutes later the set is cleverly (magically!) dismantled in a similar sequence to herald the conclusion of the show. No one is disappointed because we’re satisfied with what’s taken place and accept that the performers have adequately – SUPERBLY – done their jobs.
The performers are dressed in exquisitely elegant yet practical and playful costumes of black velvet, brocade and white lace complete with Victorianesque frilled collars (and the red noses of the most recognisable circus clowns). Brightly coloured animated interactive AV designed by Australian Michaela French provides a backdrop of natural habitats and additional characters, prompting our imaginations to take off as penguins chatter and patter over rapidly diminishing ice formations, schools of fish swim faster and faster to escape a shark in the ocean, a beautiful butterfly emerges from its chrysalis and the skeleton of a dinosaur plods off to the forest, which morphs into a jungle in which a thoughtful tiger waits.
The music is so interesting, completely enchanting – of course you’ll realise you’ve heard it before – and the way the performers use their bodies to show the animals is wonderful. They’ve mastered unique characteristics of animals, isolating and employing different body parts so that each time they transform from one species to another the kids in the audience immediately recognise the creature and call out FROG! FISH! GORILLA! An elephant created by the ensemble cleverly shows the connection and trust between the performers and later, individual elephants take turns to show off their best moves in an urban breakdance challenge.
The application of slow motion during a leaping and tumbling sequence lifts the comedy element through the roof, with funny facial expressions frozen right up until the moment before each performer takes a real-time dive through a hoop. A series of skipping rope routines begin with the acrobats as kangaroos, impressing all ages, parents probably viewing the daring tricks with some nostalgia, and kids and parents alike gasping in awe at a successful jump rope finale involving the whole company.
In every moment Circa maintains the delightful sense of play that makes their productions so enjoyable for all ages.
An entire sequence involving red balloons and kid-kissing inflatable sharks appears to be included for no reason other than to encourage audience interaction but during the Saturday morning performance we found the balloons and oversized red balls didn’t reach us more than once and settled for watching those in front, in the first few rows in the stalls, having fun with them. One father in particular, unfortunately for his children who have no chance of reaching a bouncing ball before their dad does, is so enthusiastic about this segment that I feel compelled to look around for a partner who will tell him to settle down and let the kids have a go (so I don’t have to), but there isn’t one so rather than send any more judgemental vibes, with some bemusement I celebrate the dad who is a child at heart and hogs the ball, and who is brave enough to take three children to the theatre.
Luckily for mums and dads and nannies, it’s easy to take the kids to a show at QPAC, with plenty of underground parking, clean amenities (we tend to take the neat state of our public places for granted until we’ve travelled!), and an abundance of colouring pencils, creature mandalas, popcorn, Poppers, watermelon slices and slushies available in the foyer before the show starts.