Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 27 September 2016
Cambodia’s Phare Circus presented its Australian premiere on Tuesday night – earning a standing ovation from the audience.
Phare Circus performers are graduates of the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus School, established in 1994 after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. Artists returning home to Cambodia wanted to create a safe space to offer art therapy courses. Today more than 1,200 students attend the School daily. Phare Circus donates almost 75% of profits back to the School’s programming.
Eight artists performed routines encompassing circus, dance, and theatre. Two live musicians accompanied them, performing original scores, while a visual artist painted canvas works to one side of the stage. At times the visual artist would take centre-stage and paint in rhythm with the music – with striking and beautiful effect.
The performing artists were fuelled by youthful exuberance and a certain chaotic grace. The circus began with a jump-roping unicycle routine, and ended with a flaming jump-rope acrobatics extravaganza featuring all eight artists. Other highlights included juggling duos and trios, pantomime-like theatre sequences, unicycle tightrope juggling, strongman and strongwoman routines, and a series of intricate human pyramids. At times the heights of their acrobatics seemed be to limited only by the physical restrictions of the Ukiyo Tent.
Every routine was visually and physically stunning, and delivered with slapstick-style comedic timing. During one strongman acrobatics routine, an artist took great pleasure in tussling his teammate’s over-groomed hairstyle while balancing on top of his head.
Phare Circus offers a unique and extraordinary experience for all audiences, young and old. Though be warned, you may be so transfixed by the artists’ feats that you momentarily forget to clap.
Reviewed by Nicola Woolford.
Venue: Ukiyo Tent, Elder Park
Season: 27th Sep – 2nd Oct
Tickets: $25.000 – $40.00