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Review: The Unbelievables @ Hamer Hall

The Unbelievables is not a showstopper in the same vein as The Illusionists, Le Noir or Circus 1903, summer highlights from the same production outfit. 

That said, it’s not meant to be – it’s an old-school variety show, featuring everything from time-honoured classics like ballroom dancers, ventriloquists and quick-change specialists through to newer novelties like Julia Kurkina, AKA The Artist, who works her magic in real-time by creating rapidly shifting vistas in sand. 
 
Sadly, on the night of the review, the show wasn’t sold out, which meant that the crowd felt a tad flat. In the absence of that buzz, some of the performances seemed a flat too – Jay Johnson, the Tony-award winning ventriloquist, in particular, fumbled through some of his shtick. However, comedian and New Yorker MC Harrison Greenbaum did his darnedest to keep it moving, starting with some funny (albeit fierce) audience interaction, and a few pretty darn cool magic tricks of his own – how the actual heck did he know that the dude in the audience was thinking about Taylor Swift? Why was he thinking about Taylor Swift?   
 
Hand-balancing duo Alan Pagnota and Rafael Ferreira provided the real wow factor for the evening. Pagnota, the strongman in the act, is an unshakeable behemoth, and Ferreira, who has congenital arthrogryposis and uses a wheelchair, has balance and muscle control that beggars belief. It’s difficult to comment on this one without accidentally trespassing into ableism – remember what the late Stella Young used to say about being labelled “inspiring”? However, Pagnota and Ferreira’s act was inspiring. Next time you’re feeling a smidge of self-pity, check out Ferreira’s chops on YouTube and take a good hard look at yourself.
 
Hoop aerialist Alekasandra Alex Kiedrowicz and muscle-bound Chinese pole acrobat The Titan pushed the boundaries of the norm with their acts by suspending themselves far higher above the stage than is customary, sans crash mats.     
 
Sword swallower Brett Loudermilk is side-splitting funny (sly innuendo pings over kids’ heads, while leaving parents in stitches) and can tell a cracking yarn, all of which is a precursor to him sliding a host of sharp implements down his gullet. The vision of his saliva strings haunts me days later and I still want to know where that balloon ended up. 
 
If you’ve got siblings or kids you need to entertain, this one’s a corker.