Rooftop at Crown Melbourne.
March 26, 2015.
A mix of circus and burlesque from around the world, Spiegelworld’s Absinthe combines elements of childhood and adult fantasy in one sexy, action-packed show. Opening with a raunchy version of Morphine’s Early to Bed performed by a scantily-clad Green Fairy (danced by Karla Tonkich), Absinthe’s cheekiness and energetic pace is established from the outset. It is subsequently anchored by a sleazy, greasy-haired Master of Ceremonies known as the Gazillionaire (played by Voki Kalfayan) and his wide-eyed, but potty-mouthed, assistant Penny Pibbets (played by Anais Thomassian).
While there is certainly enough flesh on show to satisfy even the most vicarious of viewers, it is the show’s rude, low-brow humour that most justifies the +15 age rating. Front row audience members beware, Absinthe is indeed highly interactive — a couple of red-faced, but enthusiastic, men found themselves performing strip shows on stage for free drinks in the course of the evening.
Stridently racist, sexist and designed to offend, this show has too much shock at the expense of wit. This unfortunately renders much of the Gazillionaire’s schtick somewhat tedious and certainly far from “subversive”, as declared in Absinthe’s promotional materials.
Luckily, the backbone of Absinthe – the remarkable talent of the circus performers — is worth any number of tasteless quips. From the focused opening chair-stacking and balancing act of Ukrainian Oleksandr “Sascha” Volohdim, to the intimate and romantic straps routine by Jacob Oberman and Maika Isogawa of the United States, to the lively horizontal bar performance by “Los Dos Tacos” Aliaksandr Yurkaveats and Andrew Sizoneko of Belarus, each act brought a unique energy to the show, building on the momentum of preceding routines.
Polish hand-balance duo Michal Nowosadko and Zbignew Sobierajski, initially introduced as the Gazillionaire’s bodyguards, proved the evening’s highlight. Their calm, expressionless demeanour belied the difficulty of their feats of strength, demonstrating that even such shows of force can be transformed into art in the hands of worthy performers.
Certainly not PG and frequently crass, Absinthe is nonetheless a show containing moments of extraordinary beauty and skill, performed by dynamic and talented performers. Just be sure not to sit in the front row.
Touring throughout Australia, see www.absintheaustralia.com for more information.
By Grace Gassin of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Spiegelworld’s Absinthe. Photo by Mark Turner.