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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Circa's Carnival of the Animals, at Arts Centre Melbourne - 50 minutes

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

How clever and creative. Circa’s Carnival of the Animals is an engaging, endearing, comedic and delightful family show – circus with a decided difference.

When we enter the Playhouse at Arts Centre Melbourne, in the middle of a barren stage is a small stack of old-style suitcases of various sizes.

As the show starts, these “props” are used as playthings.

The eight circus performers are dressed in varying combinations of black and white, complete with red clown noses.

Photos by Justin Nicolas

They are strong, dexterous and polished in their skills.

From balancing and aerial feats, to sliding, flipping and tumbling – it is all there, with a cartoon-like backdrop, reflecting the animal kingdom in various guises.

The artistes generate the movements (and, at times, the sounds) of animals of prey, dinosaurs, elephants, kangaroos, zebras, birds and sea creatures.

Created by Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa ensemble, the show was inspired by French composer Camille Saint-Saens' salute to feathers, fur and fins.

Hula hoops and juggling are also part of the repertoire, as are musical numbers.

Is there anything this troupe can’t do?

All is performed with warmth and good humour, generating well deserved and instinctive acclamation.

At one stage plastic, blow up sharks become like a petting zoo as the lights are turned on and members of the cast mingle with the audience.

And then red balls of various sizes are tossed into the body of the theatre for a spot of aerial ping pong.

My admiration for the sterling endeavours of all involved knows no bounds.

Among the many highlights is an act where slow motion is played up.

Carnival of the Animals is a beaut way to keep children aged three and up, their parents and grandparents entertained and absorbed for 50 minutes.

Since 2003, from its base in Brisbane, Circa has toured the world, covering six continents, performing in more than 40 countries, to upwards of 1.5 million people.

It is not hard to see why the company has been so embraced.

Carnival of the Animals is on at the Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne until 23rd September, 2023.


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