Saturday, 9 November 2019

SPIT - Circus Review

What: SPIT
When: 7 - 10 November 2019
Where: Melba Spiegeltent
Created and performed by: Angelique Ross
Angelique Ross - photo by Tony Caroll
This first week of the Circus Oz Sidesault festival has had a strong feminist edge and Angelique Ross' show SPIT fits nicely in the trio presented this week. Tonight is the last night for this first week of programs though, so get down there this evening if you want to get your feminist itch scratched with this degree of satisfaction.

SPIT kicks off the evening of fire and brimstone which includes Invisible Things and Never (ever in the history of calm down has anyone calmed down by being told to) Calm Down! Ross' energy and strength and sense of humour is the perfect start for this program of power.

Accompanied by femme power rock anthems Ross starts with that quintessentially women's work icon, the blender, which sounds impressively close to a chainsaw. A simple juggling routine with tomatoes follows which ends with them in the blender, mildly spitting their juice but no harm is done...yet!

Ross then pulls out the next standard piece of female accoutrement - the FMBs (Fuck Me Boots). I said in my review of Wunderage I had never seen stilletoes on a tight rope. Well, now I have so it is not surprising this second time around I wasn't quite as in awe. On the other hand, Ross is incredibly strong with core strength Xena would be proud of. In a way, this is why it was less impressive - because I had no doubt at all Ross could stay upright and do her tricks.

This is perhaps the great weakness of SPIT. Ross is a superb acrobat and her tight rope walking and trapeze work are fantastic. Traditionally, however, tight rope acts work because of the tension as to whether the walker will fall, mirroring the tension of the rope between it's 2 anchor points.

Ross has fed into this tradition but it is impossible to hide her strength and power and given this is part of the metaphor of the show I would rather she just celebrate her skills and abilities and own her magnificence. She also has one of the best levels of showmanship I have ever seen too, owning the work and her audience.

Whilst frailty, uncertainty, and error are an integral part of strength, in this intimate setting it pays to keep it real. Be strong and capable when you can and keep it authentic such as what happens in the juggling routines. The juggling is possibly Ross' weakest circus skill but that could be because the level of difficulty is up around 10 with juggling squishy tomatoes and trying to get them to fall into a blender to satisfy a craving just like the Solo Man of yore.

I found it hard to follow a narrative in SPIT but just enjoyed watching a great performer do her thing. There was one dance piece with an overdubbed narrative about hating suits which was probably the weakest part of the show. It was too long, too slow, and poorly contextualised but perhaps with a stronger narrative framework it might work better.

There is audience interaction and it is a whole lot of fun. It begins with one poor victim but by the end just about everyone can get in on the act with vigour. There are so many tomatoes!

SPIT is messy, spirited fun. It's on at 6:15 tonight so get down to the Spiegeltent and see all three fabulous shows in this first week Sidesault program.

3 Stars

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