In PHAT CAB CLUB, some of Australia’s best up-and-coming young acts show off in an hour of high-energy, high-skilled contemporary circus. Led by MC Rhys Davies, whose flair for puns and gross-out tricks is superb, the award-winning collective modernises all the traditional parts of the circus – juggling, acrobatics, hula and dance – to a soundtrack of hip-hop beats.
Individually, each performer excels and, aside from a few fumbles, marks their place on the stage with confidence.
Mark Longo’s haunting dance is a real treat. Like a mechanised doll, his still and mannequin-like face creates an eerie contrast to the precision of his robotic hip-hop moves. A crowd favourite is Odette Robbins, whose virtuosic juggling melts her increasing number of little white balls to a blur. But the real high point of the evening is Emily Chilver’s rope routine. In an astounding feat of strength and grace, she demonstrates why circus remains so captivating: it’s superhuman.
While each performer is strong alone in a cabaret-style variety show, the collaborations are where the energy really turns up, like Longo's duet with diabolo king Jordan Twartz. But this does draw attention to parts of the night which lack a similar cohesion. That said, this independent company is yet more evidence that you don’t need a huge budget and high production values to stage good circus.