‘Circus’ means a lot of different things these days, from the traditional colourful clowns and dancing animals, through to the over-the-top big top action of companies like Cirque du Soleil. Somewhere in the middle is Flown – a quirky, innovative contemporary circus bringing dance, acrobatics and cabaret showmanship to this year’s Brisbane Festival.
Pirates of the Carabina (best name EVER for an acrobatic troupe) have drawn on their UK roots to create Flown, with a punky, industrial look to the staging and a strong Celtic influence to the music. The audience is asked to imagine they’re behind the scenes at a circus rehearsal, as performers prepare the stage, iron their costumes, tune their instruments and deliver little monologues about what brought them to showbiz life.
But the ‘rehearsal’ is, of course, part of the act and what we’re actually seeing is mesmerising balancing, acrobatics, aerial trickery and big, loud, thumping tunes. Both traditional and very unusual instruments make an appearance in the show, which makes the most of the idea of backstage props like lamp posts, ironing boards and costume dummies. Anything and everything on stage might become an instrument or a participant in aerial shenanigans. Expect the unexpected!
The agility of the performers is mind-blowing as they put their unique spin (often literally) on tight rope walking, hula hooping, pole gym and hip hop. Sometimes funny, sometimes hypnotic and always a little bit edgy, Flown is one of those shows you watch from the edge of your seat.
Flown is a family show, but it is dark, moody and pretty loud, so older kids and adults will probably get the most out of it. With an orchestra live on stage – and part of the action – it may be worth avoiding the front rows with very young kids (or taking some headphones). Pirates of the Carabina are making the most of every inch of South Bank’s Courier Mail piazza until the 25th September. Shows are at 7pm daily. Don’t miss it! Visit The Brisbane Festival website for ticket details.