After an afternoon of severe thunderstorms across Melbourne, it seemed appropriate that Oracle - A Mythical Journey Through the Stars opened with a goddess suspended above the stage, accompanied by thunder and lightning. The goddess in question is in fact the Oracle (Jazmin Varlet), who sets the scene for the show and provides the narration (and cohesive thread) throughout.
Oracle is loosely based around the signs of the zodiac, with a performance for each star sign. The stories are told with reference to ancient gods and mythical creatures, using a fusion of circus, burlesque and dance.
With no fewer than 16 scenes in the show, it is impossible for me to detail all of them. However, there are a few I'd like to mention.
For Gemini, there was a stunning aerial display by Reed Kelly and Jack Dawson (who perform as 'Two Fathoms'), playing Pollux the immortal and his mortal brother Castor - born from the same mothers but different fathers. I found tears prickling in the back of my eyes as I watched their performance. It wasn't just their hold-your-breath moves, performed high above the stage, it was more to do with the organic shapes they formed together, and their complete integration, synchronicity and trust. Beautiful and moving.
Adam Malone as Egyptian god Amun Ra in Aries was a definite crowd-pleaser. The audience engagement quickly grew as he twirled and balanced an increasing number of hoops, along the way performing demanding gymnastic moves. I was in awe as he moved into a full 'bridge' backbend, with one leg raised, while (seemingly) effortlessly twirling a hoop on the raised foot. He did seem rather godlike!
I also appreciated the promotion of diversity and difference within the cast. It was refreshing to see this direction.
While I didn't feel the storyline of the show was particularly strong, it didn't need to be, as each performance stood on its own. If nothing else, the story provided a 'theme', and a direction for the luscious costumes.
Overall, a fabulous, rich, entertaining show with so much to commend it, performed by a talented and passionate cast. Highly recommended.
The audience was encouraged to let the performers know when they appreciated an act or performance, and they certainly did this, whooping and clapping throughout. The standing ovation at the end was well deserved.
This video will give you a good idea of what to expect:
If you want to catch this season of Oracle in Melbourne, you'll have to be quick as there is only one show remaining; at 8pm on Saturday 8th January at Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road. Upcoming performances are scheduled for Brisbane and Adelaide; follow the show's Facebook page to get the details.
The running time is 1 hour 50 minutes, including a 20 minute interval.
Oracle contains fire, haze, partial nudity, strobe lighting, adult content and occasional coarse language, and is recommended for audience age 18 plus.