When 3 Meet [FringeTIX]
Flexiflight Productions @ The Birdcage
6:00pm, Sat 20 Feb 2010
I must admit, I was filled with fear as soon as I realised that The Birdcage was not the big tent on the Torrens Parade Grounds – that, of course, is the Circus Oz tent. It was stupid of me to have expected otherwise; The Birdcage is a new venue that has been set up with the goal of making it easier for smaller circus companies to get out there, performing in a cheaper venue built with their performances in mind.
The Birdcage is precariously erected on the banks of the Torrens, just across the road from the Parade Grounds. It’s a bare-bones operation – at least, it was on this Saturday – with the crew still running around putting safety flags on tent pegs, whilst two yellow-vested security guards man the gate with a mixture of bemusement and disdain. There’s no crowds for them to control – hell, there’s barely any people. The two staff in the small bar combine to deliver me a drink in exchange for payment with only a modicum of confusion, the woman handling ticket sales was utterly bemused when I said I already had a ticket, and there was a bit of frantic confusion when some punters strolled right into the tent without paying.
Still, eventually I take a seat inside. It’s an odd setup – for one thing, there’s a tree just to the left of the main stage area, and there’s an overall feeling of rough’n’ready, rather than the polish that The Ringbox now exudes. But it is a big top, which lends a very positive ambience to things with the hot afternoon sun peeking in through the rolled up skirt of the tent.
When 3 Meet is a short piece based on the intersection of three very different people, all seemingly involved in one accident. It opens very slowly, with limited movement being used in the pre-accident exposition. Post-accident, it kicks off; the spurned-and-smitten guy performs some great work with the aerial silk, the hippy-esque girl does a great routine on the suspended ring, and the slick businesswoman performs a flashy hoops routine.
The reason I love watching circus acts is because they provide a glimpse of people doing stuff that I imagine to be nigh-on impossible, especially for a fat bastard like myself. And, when it’s in front of a small crowd, it feels like they’re performing for me – there’s an intimacy that’s missing with large, professional acts like Circus Oz and Cirque du Soleil. That intimacy removes the distance between me and the performer, and it puts my heart in my throat more than some spectacularly polished extravaganza.
In the case of When 3 Meet, the performances are solid – but there’s not a lot of them, and not much variety in them. Three performers, three disciplines, and some contrived semi-theatrics tying them together in a thirty-minute show. But I wound up urging the performers on because, essentially, they were my performers; they were doing all this stuff for me. And whilst I’d seen a lot of the tricks before in other acts, I’m still mesmerised by the silk, and hoops always confound my rhythm-less body.
Was it worth it? Maybe. But with a short run of three shows, and a mere handful of paying punters at this performance, it’s hard to see how this company could continue in this vein.