What does it take to be a model citizen? Well, according to Circus Oz, there are a heck of a lot more ways to be one than you might think, that go well beyond the restraints of a suburban nuclear family with a dog.
Not that Circus Oz’s latest spectaculaire, Model Citizens, has anything against dogs or nuclear families. They even star in the show. As well as a flock of sheep.
The animal-free Circus Oz has been at the forefront of the development of circus arts since they were established in 1978, and this drive to redefine what the circus means is impressively on display in Model Citizens.
Under the deft hand of artistic director Robert Tannion – incredibly, this is his first show with Circus Oz in this role – Circus Oz has blended acrobatic feats with social commentary. I wasn’t expecting such a big dose with politics with my night out at the circus, but Model Citizens pulls it off so expertly, it seems like few places could have done it better. The show touches the nerve of a range of current political issues, unpacking and satirising traditional Australian values with typical Australian humour, poking fun at ourselves in a way that only really Australians can. A family man at a barbeque sings to the tune of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, “who will come worship my Weber with me?” One man balances precariously on a house of credit cards. Even the Centrelink on-hold message is blended into the soundtrack.
The performers are stuck in a model kit world, where everyday household objects like pegs, safety pins, matches, and even underwear are transformed into giant trampolines and high flying silks – a clever re-imagining of traditional circus apparatus.
Talent and charisma oozes from every one of the performers: they are clearly having a ball with the show, and this makes a big difference.
The original music is performed live, and complements the stunts and action perfectly. If you manage not to fall out of your seat from laughter, you’ll certainly be sitting on the edge of it during the impressive acrobatic feats, which become increasingly maddening and build to a dizzying climax over two acts.
It’s hard to fault a show so expertly put together and so audaciously performed. If you’ve never been to circus before, or if you haven’t been since you were about six, there’s never been a better time to start than with Model Citizens.
Model Citizens is running from the 20th to the 16th of July in the big top at Birrarung Marr in Melbourne.