Driftwood: an intoxicating slow burn

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Driftwood cream magazine @2x

I have seen a number of very impressive circus performances where the risks are high, with production values to match. Entering the beautiful yet intimate Edith Spiegeltent, I was looking forward to an hour of circus, but did wonder how would it match up to the big shows on the Fringe calendar? My expectations were medium, and it began with a slow burn…

Touted as “Australia’s hottest young circus”, these near-perfect human specimens epitomise the body’s full potential: the physical beauty of active torsos and limbs that coupled with determination and great tenacity, creating a truly sensational performance.

All five members deliver a beautiful performance but without doubt there’s one who stole the show. Expecting a beautiful young lady might alight the shoulders of The Strongman, she instead takes the weight of The Strongman and another member of the troupe on her shoulders, forming the foundation of a three-person tower. A truly inspirational and enlightening performance.

Back to the slow burn… The narrative begins as our acrobats gather around a red lampshade that looks like something out of Grandma’s loungeroom, a tenuous symbol/metaphor linking through each chapter. The performances seem a little ill at ease, nerves perhaps, but within a short time the participants have found their groove and have audience members on the edge of our seats. I found myself making those funny little “Ooh” and “Argh” sounds that just pop out against my will. No longer a slow burn, synergy had prevailed; they ceased being five parts of a whole and instead actually moved as a whole.

Timing is impeccable in Driftwood, and the result is poetry in motion. The trust between the performers is at the heart of the performance each troupe member performing aerial stunts with confidence, just knowing their foundations are rock solid.

For me, the juggling was a winner as I struggle to juggle three balls, and can only imagine the perseverance required to get to seven. The music mixes seamlessly to enhance the essence of each subset of an overarching narrative, from Gotye’s soft and sensual Heart’s A Mess, accompanying the graceful yet athletic moves of the hoop artist, followed by a playful duet that appears to be a father and son playing rough-and-tumble, the lighter and smaller of the men being lolled around like a ragdoll providing a little unique humour. A little contortionist dislocation may not be for everyone, but masterful solos on the rope, the swing, and the aerial hoop kept us entertained to the end.

My only regret was that I didn’t get there earlier to get a front-row seat so that I could have seen a number of the skilful displays at ground level. Sadly, most of the audience would have missed these.

Driftwood’s Perth season may be over, but Adelaide folks are in for a real treat when the production washes up on their shores next week.  Karen Lamond