This multitalented cast do offer, as the cliché goes, something for everybody.
Empire is part acrobatics, part cabaret, part rock show and part sauna for the summer (the tent is gorgeous, but warm!). However, this multitalented cast do offer, as the cliché goes, something for everybody. Over 90 minutes there was contemplative performance art (the delicate balancing act by 3D Graffiti Boy that concluded the show was breathtaking, if not painstaking), flashy acrobatics (Miss A in a bubble), scary acrobatics (Lime Green Lady and Carrot Man), gross sideshows (banana mush by Fanny and Oscar was hilarious, but yes, don't sit too close) and some very funny asides. Featuring performers from the US, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Japan and Canada, a major achievement is getting so many influences in the one place at one time. With a mixture of recorded performance music (finally Muse provides the soundtrack to some serious physical moves) and live tunes, the setting was relatively lo-fi but still endearing.
The international show will particularly interest those who loved the local circus/cabaret cross from the Sydney Fest a couple of years back – iOTA's Smoke And Mirrors. However, Empire isn't quite as daring in terms of content or themes – a more traditional freak show with simply stunning physical feats rather than quirky context. From that point of view, it's more slick, which may or may not be your thing. As Oscar and Fanny noted, this show doesn't need a narrative and it's not like Cirque Du Soleil – it's something else. These two were a clear standout (and non-Cirque stand), part comedians, part deliberately crap acrobats, part provocateurs. Fanny's 'audience participation' section was especially brilliant, managing to somehow convince a member of the audience to be lap danced in public. Even though she was the one with her legs around her ears, he was the one who left without his dignity.
WHEN & WHERE: Spiegelworld, Fox Studios to Sunday 3 March