Cirque Stratosphere – Theatre Review

Have you ever thought of a show that combines a love for NASA, space and the circus? The Works Entertainment have, bringing Cirque Stratosphere to Hamer Hall at Arts Centre Melbourne for a limited run until January 11, cleverly coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

With minimum dialogue, flashy lights and music that helps enhance the anxiety inducing acts, Cirque Stratosphere contains a talented cast, which perform death defying stunts while showcasing that although they aren’t astronauts, they too defy gravity and achieve the impossible in their own way every day.

Adorned with futuristic style costumes, many of the performers provide jaw-dropping stunts including Polina Volchek who defied gravity on the pole, duo skaters Evegnii Isaev and Natalia Korzhukova who perform crazy stunts while in roller skates on a tiny circular stage, Nicolas-Yang Wang and Shengpeng Nie who make an entertaining pair of hoop diving bros, and Marat Dashempilov who looked graceful on the bungee straps.

A highlight of the production for me would be two acts; Oleg Spigin on the Washington Trapeze, high above the ground on a swing and balancing his entire body with only his jaw is something that needs to be witnessed with your own eyes. I also enjoyed the Wheel of Death which was the climax of the show, performed by Roy Miller and Luis Romero, who made my heart pound like crazy from seeing their insane stunts including jumping rope while balancing on the wheel. Insanity is an understatement.

Despite enjoying the above performances, the show isn’t perfect. I did not enjoy Salvador Salangsang as ‘The Clown’, nor did I enjoy Steve Capps aka ‘Tape Face’. While both require constant audience participation in between the acts (as the stage is prepared for the next mind-boggling stunt), it did become a bit repetitive. I understand that these two are to entertain the audience in between the acrobatic performances, but I feel they could have been executed better.

For example, when Salangsang is playfully bickering with the crowd, he does so on the same level as the audience and only the front row for the most part. This means his performances are obstructed for more than half the audience, who would not understand the context of the jokes. I certainly did not. I did however enjoy Capps’ performances in comparison, but it seems he did not get the memo with the space theme, as he just dressed in normal attire. Something that could have been changed to suit the theme without taking away from his ‘tape’ persona.

I also admittedly found the DJ music overwhelming after a while. When it comes to having people hang on the edge of their seats, silence is a clever thing to use to pause at the precise moments to help build the suspense. I don’t think this was utalised as all. So, when the major moments of each act were performed, music was playing for the entirety, which somewhat took away from the drama that one would normally expect at the circus.

Overall, I did enjoy the show and would recommend it to all ages for a great day or night out. If you haven’t been to the circus before, this is a great introduction into the circus world. If you have been to the circus, the show doesn’t provide anything new, but the stunts are still ever impressive to watch.

Cirque Stratosphere is flashy, entertaining, anxiety-inducing and is a somewhat ‘love-letter’ style tribute to humanity breaking the boundaries, as humanity did 50 years ago when man first walked on the moon.

For more information and ticketing for the Melbourne leg, visit: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/2020/circus-and-magic/cirque-stratosphere

Cirque Stratosphere will also be returning to the Sydney Opera House from January 14. For more information and tickets visit here: https://www.artscentremelbourne.com.au/whats-on/2020/circus-and-magic/cirque-stratosphere

Photography by Jordan Munns.

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