Josh Croall @ Star Theatres – Theatre 2
2:00pm, Sat 22 Feb 2014
A circus show with only two performances on the same day… out at the Star Theatre, no less? I must admit, it was nervous about committing to this show… but I found myself awake and aware, and with few other options presenting themselves I decided to bite the bullet: I grabbed a ticket at the FringeTIX box office, hopped on a bus, and scuttled down Sir Donald Bradman Drive, fully expecting to be one of only a handful of people who turned up for this performance.
But when I arrived at Star Theatres, I was pleasantly surprised: if Theatre 2 wasn’t sold out, then there were no empty seats to be seen. Parents and children filled the place out in equal numbers (with a smattering of grey topped grandparents thrown into the mix). And I started wondering why they were here – was this a friends-and-family deal, or were they attracted by something in the Guide? (Some subsequent research led me to believe that maybe some of these people were here because of performer Josh Croall’s successful Pozible campaign).
And when Croall takes to the stage, I’m initially a little… well, underwhelmed. He’s only seventeen years old, and he’s performing solo – and, at the start of the show, he was clearly nervous. There’s no physical presence early on, just a young man in an exuberantly coloured vest unconvincingly creeping around the stage before passing through a door – a door which, the pre-recorded narrative tells us, is a mystical door that grants access to the trials he must pass in order to become a Hero. These trials included juggling and feats of balance and strength.
I don’t mind admitting that, early on, I sat back a little bit grumbly – I’m slightly hungover, I thought, and I’m watching a circus piece that only just approaches the competence that I’ve come to expect from a Fringe show, and is labouring under a Campbellian narrative.
But then something changed; Croall’s confidence seemed to hit him all at once. Suddenly the boy on stage became a far more convincing and engaging performer: juggling four, then five, various-sized objects became exciting, and even the dance segment – full of flips and movements requiring flexibility and strength – avoided any sense of cheesiness. And whilst his juggling was sometimes a little rough – a result of the low beams over the stage, which knocked (and even captured) his juggled objects – the manner in which he acknowledged the mistakes to the audience left no-one unwilling to give him another chance at the trick.
As a solo piece, Door was probably a little light on content… but I still wound up leaving remarkably upbeat. As a Cirkidz graduate, Croall makes a remarkable ambassador, and would be a solid performer in a group setting; regardless, he still deserves massive respect for performing a solo circus piece with such (eventual) confidence.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 22, 2014