The human circus replaced most traditional circuses a long time ago, led by the great Cirque du Soleil who brought grandeur and theatrics to the ring without animals.
Highlighting impossible feats of human strength and agility, the market has become almost flooded with choice. Touring human circuses are a mainstay of many festivals, forcing companies to find a uniqueness that makes them stand out above the competition. If you’ve seen one hula hoop girl or strong man, you’ve seen them all, unless they can do it differently.
Enter Cirque Mother Africa, which celebrates life and culture from across nine African countries, bringing a high energy party to the stage amid all the beautifully executed feats one would expect.
The large cast add unexpected twists to their juggling, spinning, tumbling, and unicycling, while the seven band members are supported by drumming, songs and dance from the cast. The voices are sweet, the drumming is pumping, and the pace is rapid, all permeated by marvellous comedy and a cheeky spirit.
When not admiring heart-stopping balancing acts or extreme contortions, the buff cast dress to ensure they are the added attraction. The modern and traditional African costumes vary from earthy fabrics to an explosion of colour, complemented by a variety of animal masks and lots of skin.
A backdrop, which unfortunately swayed regularly on Monday night, gave a slideshow of African images, from villages to wildlife. The sound mixing was also fairly poor at the Hopgood Theatre, with the opening number of Act 2 being the worst, drowning out 3 amplified singers completely.
The few faults aside, which may have been a symptom of the venue, this travelling troupe are flying through their South Australia tour, completing their regional tour with one final performance at the Festival Theatre tonight. It’s been four years since Mother Africa came to Australia but we hope it won’t be so long before they return.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Cirque Mother Africa
When: 24 June 2014
Where: Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide
Tickets: $49.90 – $79.90
Bookings: Book online through the Adelaide Festival Centre website or phone BASS 131 246.
- Cirque Mother Africa Australian Tour website
- Cirque Mother Africa international website
- Hopgood Theatre