Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Hear the word circus and what connotations immediately spring to mind?  If you’re anything like me, images of pathetic clowns pulling off tired slapstick jokes on a floor of sawdust spring to mind.  Sad, neglected animals being bossed about by rotund ringleaders under a red and white tent and children in spandex flying from rooftops.

Which was why I was intrigued by the tagline of Adagio, the most recent offering of Wellington’s Downstage Theatre:  seriously sophisticated circus.  Not to mention its rave reviews.  Circus?  Sophisticated?  Serious?  Critically acclaimed?  Devoid of dirt-smeared toffee apples and animal rights activists?

Having secured tickets to the final night of the extended season (November 1st, 2008) and having coaxed some long-suffering and equally culturally adventurous family members to accompany me (heaven forbid I not be acquainted with the individuals who sit silently next to me in a darkened theatre while I watch a show), it was with curious anticipation that I sat in Downstage’s slightly rickety stands, hearing the rain rattling furiously at the walls and wondering what was about to come.

Whatever I had expected, it wasn’t the delicate, playful and masterful piece of theatre which filled the next seventy minutes.  The word ‘adagio’ is actually a musical term which indicates the piece should be played ‘slow and stately’, which turned out to be a perfectly fitting title for this well-crafted piece of theatre.  Picture, if you can, finely interwoven threads of music, dance, theatre, incredible displays of acrobatic skill, and subtly cheeky comedy, all sewn imperceptibly into one another and pulled off with epicene charm and playful mastery.

Picture a circus in which the place of the traditional ‘clown’ is taken by a romance-novel writing mime and a Pacific Islander with talent as surprisingly large as his belly.  In which the ‘death-defying feats’ are replaced by elegant, almost sensual displays of acrobatic artistry.  And where else but here could you find rugby and ballet intertwined into something that is somehow equal parts amusing and beautiful?

Actually, no, scratch that.  There’s no way you could imagine it if you tried.  Adagio was quite simply unlike anything you’ve seen before.  It is a terrible shame the season has finished, otherwise I would be highly recommending all and sundry to see it and see it now!  I can only hope that this original creation has not been bestowed upon its last audience, and that its gentle sense of magic continues to whisper softly to the hearts of the rest of those lucky enough to have had the experience, as it does to mine.


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