Fuego Carnal is a firecracker of a show; a whirlwind of contorting limbs, spinning hoops and acrobatics.
And the star of the show? Fire! Fire-tipped sticks, whip-cracking fire, a blazing chain, a fiery balancing act. In South Australia, it’s a rare thing indeed to see fire given such free rein.
Fuego is, in fact, Spanish for fire. And carnal… well, we all know what carnal means. The two come together to raise temperatures in a show that merges elements of burlesque and physical theatre with traditional circus skills.
Despite his uninspired stage name, it’s Steveo Extremeo’s dance moves and fire manipulation that steal the show. He provides a dramatic and highly entertaining opening, and more of him at the end would have allowed the show to go out with a resounding bang.
In such the small aerial space of the Empyrean at Gluttony, the trapeze can’t be anything other than stationary, and the Cat’s Meow’s skilfully seductive overhead manoeuvres make the most of what’s available.
If Steveo Extremeo steals the show, Ruth Battle comes a very close second. The elegance and grace of the first half of her act is delightfully contrasted with her hilarious clowning later on. She is joined in the arena by Pancho Libre, whose antics with the hoop are the show’s comedic highlight.
The street-performance background of founding members of the circus, Sophie and Jacob McGrath, is evident in their interaction with the audience. As ringmaster and whirling-chain-dervish, Sophie is authoritative and alluring; she knows how to work a crowd. And when she comes together with Jacob for the acrobatic finale, the display of strength and agility is impressive.
For the most part, the show is well constructed, but it lacks a grand finale to mirror the stunning opening.
Ultimately, however, this small, grass-roots circus troupe delivers a Fringe treat that lies somewhere between street theatre and circus extravaganza – it’s a music-blasting, fire-cracking, head-spinning feast that leaves you wanting just a little bit more.
Fuego Carnal is at Gluttony’s Empyrean until March 14.
Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.Donate Here