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Theatre Review: Limbo The Return

Limbo The Return

Creative Director Scott Maidment

The Grand Electric

Photo Credit: Damien Bredberg

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

Limbo the return

In the 1980s The Performance Space staged some strange and innovative productions that included one that involved the importation of 15 tonnes of sand for the set. Then it became the Giant Dwarf Theatre which was basically an improv school.

The latest incarnation at 199 Cleveland Street, Surry Hills is The Grand Electric which is backing up its last show with the compellingly delicious mix of cabaret, music, dance, circus, acrobatics, decadence and fire.

Limbo the Return Review

Limbo The Return opened noisily with the musicians playing the sousaphone, drums, harmonica and of course the mandatory bullhorn led by Sxip Shirey who looks like the illegitimate child of Alexei Sayle and Larry from The Three Stooges.

Amongst the noises from 27 sound devices the first half highlight was David Marco on the notoriously difficult slack rope. He performed impressive routines, some of which I hadn’t before seen. He later performed on a quadruple slack rope.

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Then the second half took off. Ben Loader did a masterful routine on a long rope, and the double whip cracking had audience members sitting back because there are two performing areas. The band is on the stage behind the proscenium arch and the round stage is in the round, so the audience is close to the action. When whips crack near your head, there’s an increased level of excitement.   

On the two Chinese bendy poles, Ben Loader and Maria Moncheva were whipped from a height of up to ten metres into and out of the audience.

Limbo the return

Raising the level further was Clara Fable, a burlesque artist, singer and fire performer who has a fascination with horror films. She did a regulation fire eating routine that we’ve all seen a hundred times and then to punctuate, she introduced a whip that was on fire. Not being satisfied with that, Fable brought out the big, long fire routines which created higher levels of excitement with the use of flash powder and propellant infused foam. Apparently in a season she uses ten litres of fuel (probably very pure paraffin oil) and eight kilograms of flash powder. That’s a lot of burn.

Being exposed to a wide range of media, we have become a bit blasé and desensitised, but when you have whips breaking the sound barrier near your ears and fire flaring out in your direction, your senses become stimulated and there’s nothing like it.

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