First-class circus currency

Driftwood (Casus Circus)

Judith Wright Centre, Performance Space

June 17

Casus Circus’ “Driftwood” is an ensemble show about the intimacy of the human contact of which we all have need as we traverse life’s sometimes turbulent currents. The show consists of a series of visual vignettes around this core concept, transitioning smoothly between segments with a fluidity that characterises the entire enterprise.


The production is muted and minimalist, featuring interesting use of an enduring lampshade motif. As it swings around, has its light shone on the audience and is lowered down with performers twisting to insignificance under its imagined weight, it adds much intrigue as to its fit within the show’s premise. And when its shape is reimagined through Kali Retallack’s upside down aerial spin, it is an arresting allusion.

The show includes the usual circus staples with use of ropes, hoops and a trapeze bar (upon which Jessie Scott performs a headstand) alongside impressive floor routines that feature, amazingly, a performer being used as a rope over which another skips. Adding further interest are the vaudevillian touches and playful energy of sections such as a group hoop number (even when a hoop rolls rogue into the audience). And mischievous glances are at the core of Natano Fa’anana’s duet with a hat rack type of apparatus cloaked in clothes. The number is full of fun in its magical evocation of inanimate object as a real-life partner.

The musical score is an important element of the show’s aesthetic. Gotye’s ‘Hearts a Mess’ backdrops a beautiful aerial hoop routine by Retallack and a pulsating beat works with imposing lighting and shadows to create a standout tribalesque number between her and Fa’anana. The performers are as strong as they are lithe. Abbey Church, is particularly impressive in her might to balance male performers atop her body. And Lachlan McAulay wows in his controlled aerial rope work.

When Casus presented its debut work “Knee Deep”, it was to critical acclaim. Although the company continues to push the boundaries of circus art, this work is perhaps more mainstream than its previous “Finding the Silence”. It was an appeal that was met with standing ovation by an audience clearly buoyed by anticipation at its first-class world premiere and one that should serve them well at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Photo – c/o Katie Bennett


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