In the past Australia's Company2 cooked up the well-received circus shows Cantina and Scotch & Soda. Their latest outing riffs on the atmosphere of an old-fashioned boxing tent, a shady-sounding form of public entertainment in which groups of professional fighters rock up in mining towns and the outback, pitch a tent and stage fights for cash.
Rather than trying to knock our socks off with a large-scale, high-concept extravaganza like some of their colleagues at this year's Fringe, Company2 uses this fascinating slice of dodgy show-biz history from Down Under to generate a fair amount of good-natured, neo-vaudevillian fun.
The cast play a clutch of contestants introduced to us by a tough, mouthy female ringmaster. These working-class characters carry monikers like Ugly, The King, the Sisterless Twin and my favourite, Sally the Alleycat. (Runner-up: Barry, a cross-dressing builder.)
The performers are, no surprise, adept acrobats, aerialists and the like, thus guaranteeing a load of action of the spin, fling, balance and swing variety. The audience is encouraged to root for their fighter of choice or, in the case of the turtle race (in which those competing squat low while wearing a half-barrel on their backs), to shout and, if seated at the front, bang on the stage. Such rabble-rousing is where this likeable, all-ages show is probably at its weakest. Certainly the overall premise isn't strong enough to fully immerse me in the action, agreeable though it is. Le Coup (French for 'the blow') does, however, benefit from bluegrass-rock music played live by, as billed, Father Grant and the Blunt Objects.