The Regal Theatre

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A hand appears from behind a thick, red curtain, fingers outstretched as if grasping for something unknown. An arm soon follows, before a head pops out, and then the attached torso and legs. A person dressed in black and white, almost like a mime but a little more harrowing, stands there, silent. She lifts her arm up above her head, and then twists it around and down, contorting her shoulder blade so her hand touches her head in a way that makes most of the crowd squirm. She disappears back behind the curtain, which rises to reveal three small stages, three red curtains, and a number of bunny rabbit-headed humans.

 “There is a line between human and animal, between madness and sanity, between logic and dream… you are invited to step over this line and go… Beyond.” As these words echo through the theatre hall, the bunny heads are removed to reveal the cast of the show, three guys and four girls. Set to some quirky beats, which included Nick Cave, a child’s music box and a lot of random animal noises, the performance launches the audience into a strange land where humans try to suppress their inner animals through acrobatic feats, daring stunts and twisting contortion. However, the storyline is overtaken by the extraordinary strength, power, and skill of the cast, as well as their overall camaraderie – impressing the audience so much so they all sat with their mouths left open.

Australia’s very own strong woman Rowan Heydon-White is really just that, showing the audience the power of the human body. The crowd watches, mouths agape, as she juggles two of the other cast members around her – one, standing atop her shoulders, the other, jumping around her waist as she spins around the stage. Then, as the performers exit, the right curtain opens to reveal a lady, dressed in red. She strips down to her bare essentials, raw, and animalistic. Hanging from the ceiling are two straps, which she hooks her feet on, before she uses the harnesses to twist and contort her body five metres off the ground. From upside down bend backs to stretchy splits and feet to head poses, she pushes her body to the extreme. As she gets higher, her turns get faster, before she releases herself and falls towards the floor, stopping just centimetres from the bottom. Like a bottle top, she spins around, gaining more and more momentum as she goes, before curling up into a ball on the floor.

Another performer explores the power of our senses, by performing on three poles while blind folded. She balances on one leg and even one arm, holding her body horizontal to the floor. Tennis rackets? No problem. Robbie Curtis squeezes through his racket, all the while balancing a ball on his head.
Carrying someone on pointe? Sure. One of the girls, wearing bright red pointe ballet shoes, makes it look easy, rising onto her tippy toes while carrying a guy on her shoulders.

Paul O’Keefe showed how light paper is by making it float in front of everyone’s eyes, while dancing into the crowd to Total Eclipse of the Heart. Silk wraps made an appearance, as did Chinese climbing poles and trapeze, the stage filled with a number of acrobatic stunts that had everyone gasping and cheering. The crew brought a large sheet to the stage, which they then used to cleanse the audience of the previous acts, running the sheet atop them almost like a wave of freshness.

A scene where the cast embrace their inner animals saw Bridie Hooper run off the stage in madness, jumping on audience members in the first few rows before making her way back on stage. A giant cuddly bear comes onto the stage amidst all the hustle and bustle, and scares the others off. He then climbs up a pole, undresses himself of the bear while still in the air, then jumps between the two poles, sliding down them at speeds akin to a backwards stripper.

Once freed of his animal being, his entourage joins him for one last performance highlighting the skills of each performer and their amazing ability to defy gravity, physical movement and gender stereotypes. It was a performance that had the crowd to a standing ovation, with some letting their inner animal out to hoot, holla and squawk their praises.


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