Underbelly Circus Hub
Stagecraft: Performance: Gasps:
Perhaps Hope is staged in a proper circus tent in a lovely setting on the Meadows. The stage is minimalistic and post-industrial which reflects the tone of the entire performance. Rocky Stone and Vincent Van Berkel are two incredibly strong and versatile circus performers who are beautifully in tune with one another. They wore costumes of grey and black; modern and functional just like the backdrop. A visual reminder of how our oil-based, divorced-from-nature lifestyles affect every part of us.
It took me a while to settle into the sparseness of the performance. Silent throughout, and accompanied by various types of background music, you had to concentrate hard to interpret the concepts they were trying to convey. At times when you felt a little lost or confused, however, you could still sit open-mouthed at the physical feats that they were so confidently and calmly accomplishing right in front of you.
Much of the show was based around two props; a smooth, large piece of wood that looked rather like a flattened row boat and various green bottles and planks of wood. Symbolising well the small chance that our human species have of surviving the rest of the century reasonably intact. Rocky and Vincent began playfully, using the ‘boat’ like a seesaw, rather like children without a care in the world. He knocks her off the boat, and the juxtaposition of the two performers; one distracted and isolated with headphones moving erratically, and the other slowly and forcefully, representing the inexorable changes in nature that continue as we are distracted with our modern toys and joys. It works well; she is strange and fidgeting and he keeps us entranced with shifting one arm balances on a tiny little beam.
The acrobatics were tightly controlled; so much so that watching them was rather disturbing. It was a blend of ballet, gymnastics, techno dance and monkey like animal movements. She stood on his head on one foot; she places her feet on his belly. She is so tiny in comparison to his large Australian surfer dude frame you don’t flinch half as much as when he then does it to her in return. As ‘the balance of things undone by money’ as the voice over says, comes into full effect, and our human disconnection kick starts the end of the world as we know it, they begin to fight with one another. But they pull it back with a look of fear and an acknowledgement of the terrible reality that awaits, and then mutual comfort begins. Adam and Eve need to repent and begin all over again. The colliding voices of conflicted media arrests us; ‘no frogs, no vegetarians, no lesbians, no CO2 questions’…as is boomed out in a distorted manner, give way to their making the world all over again with what they have left, as a hand-made spinning windmill, makeshift but functional, which gives us hope as Vincent delivers Rocky to the ‘boat’ and spins her around.
The audience was small but highly appreciative, and gave them enthusiastic applause with some whoops thrown in. They seemed like genuinely warm-hearted and good people who believe strongly in the urgent message they are trying to convey. Their performance did indeed have the startling effect of making you review the usefulness of your entire life and whether you were making enough effort to move things along in the right direction; another urgent wake up call to the fact that we are teetering right on the edge of eco-Armageddon.
Reviewer: Lisa Williams