The spectacle is in the subtlety

She Would Walk The Sky (Company 2)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Turbine Platform

February 14 – 23

A quiet descends over the small Turbine Platform audience and those standing round its balconies as ‘she’ descends with baby bird hesitancy from the rafters into the carnival arena to the prose of award winning Australian playwright Finegan Kruckmeyer.  It is immediately clear that, in its world premiere season, Company 2’s “She Would Walk The Sky”, is a circus that is simultaneously nostalgic and surreal. There are the red and golds of ostentatious circus spectacle, but these are tempered with the faded hues of pastel shades and modest period costumes. It is a juxtaposition themed throughout the show with props ranging from gramophone to candelabra, tiny piano and a whole lot of rope.

by Sean Young - Brisbane Powerhouse pic

As explanation, a bumbling Svengaliesque clown introduces the ‘people of the real world’ audience to members of the circus family, a family whose members range from middle aged bellboy to traditional strong men (complete with handlebar moustaches). Together, the intriguing ensemble proceeds to bring the Turbine Platform space to life with their shows of strength and skill. Indeed, it is a visually poetic performance, often times subtle and quiet, as with white wing-line fan, ‘she’ shows how ‘birds are like clocks with feathers’, but also alive with energy of the performers’ daring feats, heightened in appeal by their proximity to the audience, their limbs luxuriating in the space, telling their fluid and expressive tales in acrobatic odyssey.

The show makes clever use of the unique Turbine Platform space, as should be expected given that the work was specially commissioned by the Brisbane Powerhouse for WTF 14. Unfortunately, on a hot summer night, the space is not that comfortable for the sardined audience members. The lighting too, is a disappointment as, rather than showcasing the depths of the space, it leaves the band hidden in the gothic shadows for most of the performance. And the live music is an important part of this eclectic theatre experience, with violin and cello concertos perfectly soundtracking the tightrope walkers and bicycle acrobatics. On the night I attended, audio problems too, tempered the quality, but our ‘host’ handled them with aplomb, adding to the comic repertoire of his engaging performance of physical comedy and endearing characterisation.

These concerns, however, all appear minor, in consideration of the show’s holistic appeal. The choreography is spectacular. From the freakish strong man body contortions to the poise and control of aerial performer Mozes, every trick is timed perfectly so as to astound child and adult alike. And it is in these quiet, controlled moments that “She Would Walk The Sky” artfully articulates its essence as a beautiful and inspiring show, not loud or brash, but just unassuming brilliance and stunning theatrical poeticism whose spectacle is in its subtlety.