27 June 2017

Review: Model Citizens

Model Citizens
Circus Oz
22 June 2017
The Big Top in Birrarung Marr
to 16 July
circusoz.com

Model citizens. Circus Oz. Photo by Rob Blackburn

I always leave a Circus Oz show feeling happy, remembering that the world is full of amazing people and knowing that I have to remember this when the boring dickheads seem to be in control.

Model Citizens is Artistic Director Rob Tannion's first major show with the company. He's taken everything that's loved about the company's ratbag attitude and rejection of social conformity and sent it spinning to a new level of theatricality and artistic cohesion. 

With a mostly-new troupe of simply amazing performers, this new work questions the idea and rules of being an Australian. Are we role models or all-the-same models that look and think like we're told to? What are the rules of getting through each day?

Some of the content is obvious – like a pink mohawk being questioned by the blue and white majority – but perhaps we need to be reminded that everyone is welcome here and we can do with some help in letting anyone who doesn't feel welcome know that we're trying to change the attitudes of the boring dickheads.

Michael Baxter's design (and Laurel Frank's costumes; Laurel is a founding member of the circus) distorts perspective. With a magnificent colour palette of 1950's blue, the design re-works and re-imagines traditional circus apparatus to look like oversized and distorted household objects – like the irons and safety pins that all belong in model homes.

Highlights include a glorious multiple slack-rope with violin routine, a credit card balance stack, and group aerial work that never ceases to amaze. And what show isn't made better with a song about a Weber barbie?

The Circus Oz world is a pretty amazing place to visit. Here anyone can be as strong and/or as pretty as they like, everyone is welcome and live music always makes everything better. Every rule about the world outside of the big top is questioned but once you're in, it's a place where support is met with support and everyone can fly because they trust and welcome everyone else.

Maybe the rules aren't that complicated after all.

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