h

Circus Oz 'Model Citizens' begs to be seen time and time again

Faced with the unenviable task of topping their last showcase of acrobatics, cabaret and physical comedy, Circus Oz have definitely stepped up to the plate, their new show well-worth checking out.

Model Citizens explores an idealised societal framework, revolving around the minutiae of everyday Australian life. Tattooed daredevil Mitch Jones plays a sympathetic fish-out-of-water, bewildered by a hustle-and-bustle world of laundry, safety pins, pegs and Weber barbeques. The concept is explored to varying degrees throughout the show, sometimes ignored in the case of certain routines. It’s not as if Model Citizen is any less spectacular for these detours, but the show is mere tweaks away from being thematically cohesive.
 
Nitpicking aside, Model Citizens is nevertheless a real treat and, noting the finer points and nuances in each performance, it’s a show that begs repeat attendance. With the stage at its busiest, flashy acrobatics in full swing, it’s easy to miss that each performer has their part perfect to looks and glances that demonstrate character. Model Citizens is packed with the sorts of things that aren’t overly showy yet contribute so much. On that note, credit must be also be given to the all-important house band, who heighten the action from the shadows, providing the perfect soundtrack to every segment of the show.
 
A dazzling display from the master of hula hoops, Freyja Edney, ranked among the highlights, along with the high-flying silk work of Rose Chalker McGann. Later, Luke Ha gradually ascended towards the apex of the Big Top nail-biting fashion, seizing the perfect selfie opportunity. As an audience member, you shudder to think of the trial-and-error process that goes into some of these things. Of course, it's all seamless and performed without a second of trepidation, the performers treating the plainly courageous as run-of-the-mill. Model Citizens certainly has its share of moments where you’re genuinely nervous for the performers, which always makes the payoff that much more enjoyable.
 
Appropriately, show-stealing shenanigans came late in the piece, courtesy of violinist Alex Weibel Weibel. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, this review will dance around the details - suffice to say, if any single audience member remained unmoved by Weibel’s badass display, they were surely won over by his next feat, involving a network of slack ropes. It took an all-in finale to top both of Weibel’s jaw-dropping stunts, the entire ensemble combining in a memorable display of traditional acrobatics.
 
In a sense, Model Citizens marks a new era for Circus Oz, this show the vision of newly-appointed Artistic Director Rob Tannion. It’s a fantastic first step into the future for the company, Model Citizens thrilling from start to finish.
 
 
by NICK MASON