Bruce Mason Theatre, 11am and 2pm, until Saturday 10th October
If you are looking for somewhere to take the kids these school holidays – or if you are a nanny – then The Carnival of the Animals is a joy. At just under an hour, even three-year-olds can manage it, and because it is all clowning, acrobatics and music, with no story to speak of and few words, little whispered conversations (‘But HOW did she get up there?’ / ‘She’s very strong, darling, she used her arms’ etc) will thankfully not lead to death stares from other members of the audience.
Circa is an Australian circus company that has taken Camille Saint-Saens music as a starting point – it is interspersed with a number of other more modern, catchy tracks – to create a series of vignettes based around all sorts of animals, from aerial fish to hip hop elephants. The performers are absurdly bendy, strong, energetic, expressive and enthusiastic, as they slide on their stomachs like penguins, or jump onto each other’s shoulders to form a human pyramid. Their talent for physical transformation is incredible, but just in case it is unclear, each vignette is supported by clever colourful multimedia – essentially, a video backdrop that creates the animal’s habitat - which, with the music, sets the mood and adds colour to what would otherwise could be a very monochromatic colour palette. The costumes – ringmaster leotards with little ruffs and bare backs – are presumably practical if you are clambering over each other, but a bit kinky, though the children don’t realise.
The children loved it – and watching all these chubby little hands pound together is a delight in itself – and the adults genuinely did too. There is comedy in here, and beauty, as well as sheer awesome talent. I would recommend this show, and highly, to anyone under 13 and over 17. It is extremely playful and sometimes silly, it is not cool or dark or sexy, but it’s magic.