DYSTOPIA, by South Australian-based CircAxe, is set up to present to its audiences a post-apocalyptic world that is rebuilding itself after suffering a massive wave of devastation and has consequently created a society of otherworldly creatures and halflings. The dark and moody vibe of the fantasy world is further accentuated by using a combination of metal music and performers with highly skilled acrobatic feats to channel the theme of the show.
Kicking off the performance with an eerie mashup of visuals depicting a war-torn land with aeroplanes dropping bombs and ruins after all the destruction has taken place, we see 'undead' children (with black paint smeared across their faces), who plop to the bottom of the stage and make their way behind the curtains, as lead guitarist Scott Reed walks onstage, whilst being dressed in steampunk attire and provides a brilliant soundtrack for the acts to follow.
Throughout the performance, we are treated to a range of visually-striking performances, from Chantelle Reed's thrilling segment on a suspended hula hoop as well as a haunting performance on an aerial hammock, to Alex Charman, whose hair-raising rendition of a puppet 'coming to life' through a masterful piece on the trapeze is one that will leave you with spine-chilling tingles all over your body. We also see the insatiable Edwina Barns-Tripp, who is adorned in a shiny cape, which is eventually stripped away as she sets fire to the stage (not literally, don't worry) with her dynamic fire twirling, in addition to watching a beautiful elf, who is dressed in a white bodysuit and tutu ensemble, as she effortlessly presents with a dreamy display of aerials on silk in a free-flowing fashion and manipulates the silk in a way that sees her drop to mere inches above the floor with grace and poise that is admirable. Hula hooping by a duo of young performers further covers the variety of circus entertainment that encapsulates a show that ticks all the boxes of providing a class act of physical theatre. Reed on the guitar takes the form of a Dark Lord, who seems to govern the happenings of this new world and how it can be restored to one that will allow for a sense of survival that won't get riddled by greed or politics pre-Dystopian era. His solo performance is a bold moment that captivates the audience and gives a deeper insight into his musical talent, where he is able to create an amazing instrumental sound that has the power to leave you on an energetic high for the rest of the show.
While each individual act has its turns in the spotlight and does magnificent work in entertaining their audiences, the collective efforts that come together, particularly in the final 15 minutes of the show, bring a cohesive closure to the overall concept of the show that highlights a new world that can live in harmony post-devastation. While I am a huge fan of Reed's awesome music, it would be really cool to perhaps incorporate some drumming to further heighten the dance that is performed by the youth talent (the 'undead' zombie tribe) from the CircoBats Performance Troupe, where their ferocious movements could leave a more major impression onstage.
A dazzling and sensational mix of "virtuoso guitar playing and award-winning circus artistry", DYSTOPIA by South Australian circus troupe CircAxe aims to offer its audiences with a chillingly fierce performance that brings together the art of electrifying metal music that accompanies a range of fantastic acrobatic acts - all performed by some of the most agile and strongest females in the circus industry - that will leave you in an eternal state of awe. With a few tweaks and fine-tuning, there is no doubt that DYSTOPIA will continue to grow and present a well-polished performance in the years to come, in addition to becoming a well-known show and squad within the SA-based performing arts industry.
Date attended: 08/03/2020 Overall rating: ★★★★
While DYSTOPIA has a super limited season at Adelaide Fringe this year, there is no doubt that we will be seeing this South Australian team of performers at more upcoming festivals that celebrate the performing arts scene.
A link to their interview article can be found here.