Thomas Gorham & Callan Harris @ Royal Croquet Club – Ukiyo
6:30pm, Thu 27 Feb 2014
I was a little bit tipsy when I appended myself to the line leading into Ukiyo – there were Festival visual art openings earlier in the evening, at which plenty of Croser was begging to be drunk – but I was still wary enough to realise that it was a long line. And being at the end of it meant that we should have been struggling to find decent seats… but surprisingly we found ourselves to the side of the stage with a decent view of pretty much everything.
Elixir proved to be a reasonably standard circus act, themed around the idea that the two performers – Thomas Gorham and Callan Harris – played scientists evaluating a series of elixirs, each of which imbued the men with certain abilities. With pre-recorded narrative accompaniment, the men returned to the premise only long enough to prep the next trick, but a few of their stunts had really tenuous links to the laboratory setting.
And most of those strength and balance tricks have been seen elsewhere before – not that the crowd seemed to mind, especially given (a) the high ratio of women in the crowd, and (2) the physique of the performers on display once they decided to lose the lab coats. The guys really hammed it up, too; there were some coy winks to the more excitable sections of the crowd.
And whilst the (excellent) ladder work was on the more exotic side of things (and even that has become more common in circus acts these days), their standout piece was most certainly not something seen in a venue so small – a dynamic and exciting see-saw experiment which seemed genuinely dangerous within the tight confines of Ukiyo. The other exceptional moment was a neat sand-drawing piece, projected for all to see; again, not something usually seen in a themed circus show, and an interesting way to create a welcome breather for the guys.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m finding it harder to see shows like this: but that’s my problem, I’m certain, because I see so many shows. Objectively, Elixir provided solid entertainment and plenty of thrills, and most of the crowd went away utterly happy; unfortunately, it takes more than a new theme (or see-saw, or sand-drawing) to get me raving about something.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) February 27, 2014