Sydney Opera House
Producers: Simon Painter and Tim Lawson
Photographs by Jordan Munns
Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP
What? The Sydney Opera House Concert Hall has been turned into circus? Cirque Stratosphere has moved in and provides some breathtaking spectacles.
The theme is the space race of the 1960s, a concept that works brilliantly.
On the night, the show opened with an astronaut inviting two latecomers onto the stage to each play a kettle drum as sections the audience vocally provided the music to Also Sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 by Strauss, a.k.a. one of the more memorable pieces of music in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It turned out to be an interesting test of skill for the performer regarding audience management and coping with the unexpected. The astronaut/clown, Salvador Salangsang, is a master at convincing audience members to play games such as the gunfight with staple guns and balloons, and the bit with the giant alien head is a simple and imaginative variation on a classic routine.
The central, octagonal lighting grid takes off like a spaceship to signal the start of the first and second acts.
Many of the traditional circus acts are there. The Teeterboard, The Russian Bar, The Aerial Hoop, Duo Velocity (two skaters at high speed on a small, circular stage) are superbly performed, and The Trapeze is executed by Oleg Spigin who reminds me of Superman villain, General Zod. The climax is The Columbian Wheel of Death, which is the best ever name for a circus act, and is performed by Roy Miller and Luis Romero from The Flyers Valencia. At times, they look like they’re in a weightless environment. Performers in this show are Olympic-class acrobats and their skills are awe-inspiring.
The sheer height of the Concert Hall and the fact that there is no safety net provide additional excitement.
To me, watching circus is like listening to the telling of a standard, popular joke or attending a production of Hamlet for the umpteenth time. You’re very familiar with the material but the appreciation lies in the interpretation and the skill, flair and style of the delivery.
If a measure of circus success is indicated by the number of gasps from the audience, then Cirque Stratosphere a winner. Take a trip to the Opera House if you’re open to being entertained, impressed and excited.