Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Overall rating:★★★★1/2 Date attended: 21/02/2019
A playful yet reminiscent take on the Aboriginal Australian culture, Chasing Smoke uses the art of circus and physical theatre to tell us an important story around the history of segregation in Australian culture and how it's time to stand up against the oppression that people of colour have experienced over the last many generations.
Boasting of Australia's only Indigenous circus crew, Chasing Smoke brings together a number of real-life stories shared by five Aboriginal Australians and mixing it up into a visual spectacle with contemporary performing arts, physical theatre (circus, acrobatics, aerials), sketch, and narrative.
Voicing the dated stereotypes around Australians and particularly, Aboriginal Australians, Chasing Smoke hopes to make a statement around how things are far overdue for a modern-thinking-revamp. Costume changes are quick and frequent, as the crew jump between performing dance and acrobatics, featuring a number of quintessential songs - right from the '60s to the present age. There is humour sprinkled throughout the show, which acts as a subtle undertone to an otherwise important topic of discussion. There are a number of pinnacle moments that are scattered throughout the show to represent the evolution of how people view Aboriginal Australians and how it can tug at the heartstrings with so much force.
Using real-life stories narrated by Aboriginal Australians with their identities personified, along with a killer soundtrack that brings bands like Electric Fields, Neneh Cherry, and Gawurra (to name a few) to further accentuate the ambience and movements that are demonstrated throughout the show, you cannot help but feel a strong sense of symbolism, a silent revolution in the making, and a moral compass readjusting itself to find a way to make things right again in the world.
Each performer takes turns with presenting their version of what it's like to be an Aboriginal Australian in today's age. There are also moments where a couple of them group together to create something magical and visually appealing through the display of agile strength, to celebrate the fierceness and survival of a culture that has been overlooked and is severely underrated.
While there were a couple of performance-based hiccups along the way (losing a hula hoop or going off-balance with the choreography ever so slightly), it did not deter our attention away from the overall message of the show, which is to appreciate and validate everyone's existence equally - regardless of where they come from or what they look like.
The pace is fast yet calming. The acrobatics and aerials are next level astonishing. The stories shared throughout the show are vivid and powerful. The soundtrack is hauntingly beautiful. The cultures represented throughout the show speak volumes, through emotional undertones that don't need words for affirmation. It is a show that makes you want to be aware, be inquisitive, and be bold in recognizing an individual by their achievements and what they can do, rather than blanket them over with a superficial opinion based on the colour of their skin or their looks. This is an empowering performance that shouldn't be missed this Adelaide Fringe season.