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Empire by Spiegelworld


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Festival and Fringe veteran? Think you’ve seen it all? Empire’s astounding mix of  circus, theatre and sheer bump and grind entertainment proves there are plenty of reasons to squeeze another show on to your calendar.

The cherry-picked international cast – assembled by an Australian creative team –  premiered on Broadway last year and has landed in Adelaide via sold-out seasons in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Empire doesn’t just take the cake, it ices it and sticks a giant sparkler on top.

First, a suggestion: resist the urge to check out the acts on YouTube beforehand. Fresh eyes will most definitely be rewarded. Let hilarious and occasionally terrifying husband and wife hosts Oscar and Fanny (Jonathan Taylor and Anne Goldmann) take your hand and drag you on a daring ride which is equal parts slick and scary with a squirt of sex, some of it very unsafe indeed, especially if you’re sitting in the VIP seats. Their banana dinner party might put you off fruit for a while but you can’t fault their aim.

In a serene opener, a shower of tiny bubbles bathes the audience as Lucia Carbines spins, suspended in a transparent sphere high above the stage. It’s a delicate beginning to a program where success relies on getting the balance just right and it’s in the pacing that Empire trumps similar shows. Live vocals and guitar courtesy of Miss Purple and Moondog reinforce the New York theme, and a trio of Gorilla Girls bring pizazz as well as some precision acrobatics to a mind-boggling display of talent which more than justifies the pricey ticket.

Roller-skating spouses Denis Petaov and Mariia Beseimbetova shock the crowd with a fast and fearless routine which swings the danger-meter into the red zone and keeps it there. Black Flintstone and Big Mac Boy, the foot-juggling Addis Brothers, tumble, spin and flip with breathtaking flexibility and confidence, and are obviously crowd favourites. Yasu rolls around the stage on the double-ringed German Wheel and the Cyr (think hula hoop on steroids) before Lime Green Lady and Carrot Man (Renaldo Williams Jr and Naomi Zimmermann-Pichon) push the boundaries of gravity with a tender gymnastic pas de deux.

Graffiti Guy Memet Bilgin, seen earlier wrangling the unlikely pairing of a giant piece of driftwood and a spinning top, appears again to close the show with an exquisite act of balance that silenced the audience with its almost dreamlike focus. His piece by piece creation using branches and a single feather is mesmerising, and echoes the mixture of delicacy and strength which began the evening.

Empire showcases a group of artists at the top of their game, delivering a perfectly finessed concoction of great beauty. Gorgeous.

Empire by Spiegelworld is at Rymill Park until September 29.


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