h

Circus Oz's 'Rock Bang' is an operatic spectacular

Buckle up – Circus Oz’s upcoming show Circus Oz: Rock Bang is an absolute whirlwind. This is not your average circus show – in fact, it’s a circus rock opera. 

Fusing the splendid acrobatics of Circus Oz with eccentric, infamous rock duo Otto and Astrid of Die Roten Punkte (The Red Dots), it’s safe to say Circus Oz are leaving nothing behind in their 40th year of performance. 

‘‘It’s the most incredible thing we have ever been a part of,’’ says Otto. ‘‘The whole show is about the story of our lives with acrobats flying around everywhere. It’s amazing.’’ 

Otto and Astrid became involved with Circus Oz after playing at at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival. ‘‘Art director Rob Tannion wanted to make a show about a band. He googled best band in the world, and we just happen to have a song called ‘Best Band in the World’. He got really excited after seeing us play.’’ 

The Europop, post-punk rock band are no strangers to collaborative performance, having recently toured with American singer Amanda Palmer and playing at Woodford Folk Festival. Their work with Circus Oz marks another entrance for them into the realms of cabaret, comedy and circus. ‘‘The weird thing is – we are just a rock ‘n’ roll band. People from the cabaret and circus world, they love what we do so we keep getting asked to play. We don’t mind, we love it. As long as there’s an audience, we’ll play. Bring it on, we say.’’

In its exploration of the trajectory of Otto and Astrid’s lives, Circus Oz: Rock Bang recounts the death of the sibling’s parents, exploring how the duo were soon to be plunged into the Berlin rock scene. ‘‘Living in Berlin after the wall came down, people were living in squats. Everyone was in a band, or an artist, or in the circus. It was an explosion of creativity.’’

April 8 1990, was a day Otto recalls changed his life. ‘‘We saw David Bowie,” he explains.  “He was a guardian angel coming down from the heavens and showing us the way of rock ‘n’ roll – so we had to start a band.’’  

Once formed, Die Roten Punkte didn’t start performing immediately, taking time to write their music. ‘‘It took us time to work out how to pose for photographs with our instruments,’’ Otto laughs. Their song writing process is one of collaboration. ‘‘One of us will have an idea and show it to the other. I’ll say ‘Hey Astrid, here’s an idea’, and she’ll say ‘no that’s no good, it should go like this,’ then I’ll say, ‘it should go like this.’ Some might call it arguing, we call it creativity.’’   

Circus Oz: Rock Bang sees Otto and Astrid step out from behind their instruments to tell their story, joining forces with a four-piece live band. ‘‘It’s a bigger sound, there are so many of us. That’s the difference that allows us to go into full rock opera mode, playing new and old songs.’’ 

Of course, there are also some songs where the duo play their renowned miniature instruments. ‘‘People ask us ‘how do you make such big sound with such little instruments?’ Astrid plays a miniature drum kit. She had stolen some instruments from a primary school, so we got used to playing on a smaller scale. It’s just what we do.’’ 

The show incorporates many other musical influences into its contagious and momentous anarchy. ‘‘There are references that are coming into the show musically that we have never had before. There’s Nick Cave and Radiohead, The Who and Green Day, who we are big fans of.’’ 

Otto and Astrid elicit an exhilarating stage presence. Combine that with the mesmerising flying and flipping acrobatics of Circus Oz, and a detonation of dynamism is created.

‘‘Something magical happens when we are on stage together, we get lost inside the music. Our aim is to try and put on the greatest rock ‘n’ roll show anyone has ever seen.’’

Catch Circus Oz: Rock Bang from Thursday November 15 until Sunday November 25 at the Malthouse Theatre, Southbank. Tickets via the venue website.