Smash it by Circus Oz belies the notion that acrobatics are a young person’s game. This kooky show is intergenerational mayhem at its finest, with cast members representing millennial, Gen Zs, Baby Boomers and everything in between.

But there’s no free pass for age – all the cast, including Debra Batton, a proud sexagenarian, and Mozes Heawood (also circus royalty of the top order) acrobalance, trapeze and hoop dive in peak form, side-by-side with their younger cohorts.

The idea of this is truly mind-blowing, but to be fair, they have been doing this circus stuff for basically their whole lives, so why shouldn’t it be possible to keep going if the body is willing?

Mozes's rope act, including a stint spinning repeatedly while hanging from his neck, hasn’t lost form in two decades. He roller skates and tumbles as well. Batton is also incredible, sandwiched in he middle of a three-person tower or catapulting through the air on the swinging trapeze.

All seven performers (including Angelique Ross, Celso March, Leo Pentlan, Sharon Gruenert and Spenser Inwood) handle the physical rigours and slapstick with great spirit, but there is something especially inspirational about watching the mature performers.

Directed by David Woods (with assistance from Nicci Wilks), Smash It nods to the larrikin antics of the golden years of Circus Oz. Human statues, cornball audience antics, a playful camaraderie through deceptively difficult manuevers all create a laid back vibe.

But Smash It also feels like a unique beast, with its own accents and rhythms, bringing in versatile props like a dumpster on wheels (perfect for hiding acrobats) and a back alley wall to create a minimal set.

The show rolls from one act to the next, with mood created by musicians Carl Polke, Chris Lewis and Sophie Dunn, who employ everything from snare drum and tuba to flute, creating eclectic accompaniment. Perched up high behind the shenanigans, the trio is visible enough to be part of the show but far enough away to not be forced into awkward physical trysts with the acrobats ( as sometimes happens in contemporary circus).

Despite the nudy rudy leotards/bodysuits (with matching 80s track suits adorning the bodies in various combinations) Smash It is definitely a family friendly show, with enough high level skill and emotional turns to keep adults involved.

What’s truly impressive is the bodies that can take on such challenging physicality with so much zest, breaking any ageist notions about performance.

For the show to succeed, it’s a group effort, with the youngest to the oldest, working as equals. Teamwork has always been an ideal of Circus Oz and Smash It continues that principle.

Event details

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Smash It
Circus Oz

Director David Woods

Venue: Fairfax Theatre | Arts Centre Melbourne VIC
Dates: 28 March – 21 April 2024
Tickets: $111 – $20
Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au

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