Reviewed by Lee Bemrose
Photo by Tony Virgo
In the promo brlurb for Limbo is the cheeky line, 'The show so hot, Madonna came twice.' To whoever came up with that line, chapeau.
Limbo is indeed an exciting show, a mashup of circus, cabaret and live music with a little bit of magic thrown into the mix. That it all takes place inside an art deco Spiegeltent – on this occasion on a perfect Melbourne Spring night – makes for a memorable night out.
The overall vibe feels kind of French gypsy, but the troupe is actually a motley collection of insanely talented performers from around the world. There are stunning solo demonstrations of contortion, tap dance, hand balancing, acrobatics, aerial grace and sword swallowing, but they also work together in duets or with the whole cast as one team. The melding of such diverse talents and the morphing from one skill to another are as impressive as the feats of strength and balance themselves. The trust the performers have in each other is also something to be admired.
Highlights include the German contortionist Tigris, whose flexibility edges by degrees towards downright freaky whilst retaining a weird kind of grace; Australian dancer Hilton Dennis who taps solo before being joined by American sword swallower Heather Holliday (she tap dances here, sword swallows later) and French Canadian aerialist Evelyne Allard who adds to the dancing dynamics some unexpected and exciting percussion; and the hand balancing Russian-born (Australian?) Danik Abishev. The pole dancing, the fire breathing, the aerial work, all highlights. However the one act guaranteed to be everyone's absolute highlight of the night is the threesome on the tall bendy poles. This act is the essence of circus. It is thrilling, it is both physically demanding and physically elegant, and it is fun. Big fun for the performers and for us.
The live band is used as a filler between acts, but it is not mere filler; its very much part of the show. And as if the stage performers weren't multi talented enough, many appeared to also play music, sing and beatbox, with the band headed up by the dynamic ringmaster figure Elyas Khan.
Given the athletic nature of the show, there is plenty of eye candy. The dance scenes – often a combination of acrobatics and dance – are bawdy, flirty and playful, with the night perhaps a little top-heavy with shirtless guys with their perfectly sculpted bodies and sheen of sweat... seriously – who has bodies that perfect? But the girls have their moments with the tattooed Heather Holliday looking particularly exotic in that bygone era, sideshow kind of way. Yum.
I raved about the Fringe's Barbaroi a couple of weeks ago, and while not wanting to put that show down (I really enjoyed it), put simply, Limbo is next level.
At The Melbourne Festival Spiegeltent until November 1st.