When the zaniness of Steve Hensby’s Circus began, no one seemed to quite know what to expect.
Channelling vintage circus vibes circa 1920, the intimate setting of The Showman’s Fair’s Opticum was a perfect playground for this motley crew of musicians, acrobats, contortionists and fire-dancers.
Flourishing in his role as multi-instrumentalist and ringleader, Hensby has seamlessly blended his album of eclectic big band show-tunes with dazzling displays of human skill and physicality.
The WAMI-nominee is accompanied by his equally impeccably dressed band and vibrant brass pundits Junkadelic. Situated at the top of the tent, they provide the perfect soundtrack to the madness of the circus below.
It’s here that everyone is fixated on. What begins as a safe pantomime comedy of some rather flexible clowns quickly escalates into amazing feats of the human body.
The expertise of the performers is undeniable as they dance, twist and somersault. Madame Moët commands the stage with the skill and confidence of a seasoned professional, and she manoeuvres the aerial silks like poured wine.
The talented Miss Terri undergoes no less than three costume changes in an unconventional act, before Saskia Twist demonstrates a flexibility that will make your eyes water.
And that’s before the climactic fire comes out, dancing and twirling in such a mesmerising way that you almost forget you’re inside a small flammable wooden tent.
Acrobatic troupe Equilibrium inject some light-hearted humour into the mix, and their interaction with the flame had the audience on the edge of their benches.
The gypsy grooves are punctuated by an impressive vocal performance by Hensby and his singer Elysia Murphy, resulting in tunes that are dynamic, catchy, and most of all, fun.
A personal highlight was when the brass band descend into the fray.
Despite its short running time, the show is jam-packed from start to finish and you’d be hard pressed to not find something to love. While it seems chaotic at first, the pacing falls into a nice rhythm and amps up at just the right time.
You may have seen circus acts before, but you’ve never seen them quite like this.