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tipping point @ the spaghetti circus big top parramatta

Ockham’s Razor is a London based performance company who are back for the Sydney Festival. Patrons who saw them in 2014 will have some idea what to expect, though this is a very different show. The philosophical concept Ockham’s Razor is often minimalised to … the simplest answer is probably true. But more interestingly it originally translated as something like … to solve a problem don’t allow too many options. This influential and internationally recognised company have most certainly taken that advice to heart.

TIPPING POINT, playing in Parramatta as part of the Sydney Festival is billed as a blend of circus, acrobatics and theatre. The blending is seamless. Utilising only 5 by 5 metre metal poles, the cast of 5 create a spellbinding performance. There is some wonderfully inventive rigging apparatus which allows the poles to work as Circus acts such as tightrope, trapeze, Chinese Poles even teeter totters but with considerable science behind it. Fulcrums, diminishing parabolas, inertia, momentum are all harnessed by the skilled performers.

Three men and two women, they are all equally multiskilled and, unlike traditional circus where artists have a speciality, this troupe is all involved. Whether it be doing acrobatic tumbles on the rosin caked floor or handstands cartwheeling away from the swiftly swinging pendulum poles. Their strength work is a beauty to behold. It’s also a glorious sight as they scramble in the air between the vertical poles in their backlaced Venetian breeches looking for all the world like sailors in the rigging of an Elizabethan six-master.

Beauty is where the theatre element really kicks in. There are silences and stillnesses. The breathtaking simplicity and visual lyricism of a man swinging gently in a blue light to a variety of hand rung and hit bells of different timbres. He looks happy, confident and even the little ones in the audience are enthralled. There is also a small sequence of ‘trust’ work in the show and it was so much fun to watch.

But for me the real simplicity is in the interactions between these performers, it is very non-traditional in circus terms. On their website Ockham’s Razor describes their philosophy. “Rather than paint the circus performer as a superhuman character capable of impressive feats we make work that draws on the human and the real, where the characters go through recognisable experiences, emotions and conflicts …”

They tease each other gently; pat a colleague on the head; the five handle all their own lunge ropes for the poles. I found it fascinating that the first clap from the audience, there had been lots of oo’s and gasps, was about 10 minutes in and was for one of the female performers coming high off a pole into the arms of her compadres. There had been a bit of a wobble and nervous face before she launched herself. Genuine emotion will always capture a circus audience more than the traditional ‘fail first time to show how hard it is!’

TIPPING POINT continues until 22nd January at the Spaghetti Circus Big Top, Prince Alfred Square, Parramatta.



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