LaMama Courthouse Theatre
Statera Circus is a joyous, adventurous, and inquisitive circus and physical theatre collective. According to their website - through circus performances and extended community engagement programs, the company facilitates opportunities for young people including those from vulnerable communities. “Boop” is a 50-minute Auslan interpreted show. I caught it at LaMama Courthouse.
It’s a Sunday afternoon; one company member is off with an injury; the venue has basic lighting, and the sound is deliberately low level (as this is a highly accessible performance); the company rolls out the crash mat; the apparatus and props are strewn around the edge of the stage. An audience of mostly under 10s and their adults are very excited. Without the sophisticated gadgetry of contemporary circus shows, “Boop” is going to live or die based on its technical skill, dramaturgical rigour and personality of the troupe.
The tumbling, acrobatics, and balancing feats have the audience squealing in delight. Adding to stuff that can be achieved on Terra Firma, the company has developed an apparatus, Perspex Balance, that can present these circus acts with a light production footprint. This team is skilled. They don’t appear to sweat, and the physical tricks keep coming. I really wanted to see them juggle the mountains of toilet paper on the stage – or the eggs – but more of that later.
The team is vibrant with personality. Especially engaging were Aleshanee Kelso and Karina Schiller - not only great circus performers - but natural clowns. It would be great to see the troupe develop this side of their performance. Especially as “Boop” has an apparent narrative with characters. The blurb reads “ a ragtag team of employees subvert the 9-5 with crashing shelves, trolley races, and terrifying stunts! But will these comedic characters ever find what they’re really looking for?” It took me a while to understand what the story is and who these characters are. The narrative was so clumsily delivered that it got in the way of an otherwise enjoyable performance experience.
What “Boop” needs is a director; some detailed clowning and character work; and possibly a dramaturg. All three of these elements can take this troupe to the next level in terms of their performance making and delivery. The unnecessary props (toilet paper, eggs, bad signs…) promise a show that “Boop” isn’t. The audience don’t need an external ticking clock to keep the stakes high (in this case, a rather clumsy manually operated flick clock). We don’t need hand drawn signs to tell us what is going on. We need an external eye who can help the troupe eliminate all unnecessary elements and perhaps even assist with some basic design.
“Boop” is the beginnings of a terrific showcase for an emerging circus troupe. These performers are inventive and brimming with life and personality. “Boop” is rough around the edges. Big ups for Stratera’s focus on accessibility. Let’s hope they focus on polishing the diamond and get this show to shine!