The Zodiac has been referred to across cultures for thousands of years. From everyday horoscopes to tales that are deep within mythology. It has always fascinated me to hear how something so universally referred to have a different meaning depending on the culture that refers to it. This is where Oracle steps in to recount these myths with a production that is awe inspiring.
In a return season to Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre, Oracle is a mythical journey through the stars told through the art of Circus, Burlesque and Dance.
Written, Directed and Produced by Bass G Fam, the production is narrated by Jazmin Varlet as ‘The Oracle’. Not only does Varlet guide us on our journey through the cosmos, but she also has incredible live vocals that introduce several performances.
With the whole cast on stage during the opening number, I was instantly impressed by the choreography and costume designs. Accompanied by an absolutely banging soundtrack, it felt like I was at the beginning of an epic ancient dance party. If I was this excited before it had even started, I knew I was in for one hell of a show.
Opening with one of my favourite ancient cultures is Keeva Svikart as Libra with the Egyptian God, Anubis and their Scales of Justice. Svikart’s performance consists of a fabulous burlesque belly dancing number. Not only was I impressed with the way that Svikart was able to independently move parts of her body, but her natural chemistry with the audience. She really got the crowd going and by the end of the number, we were all ready to party!
The remainder of Act 1 consisted of Rhys Lightning as Aquarius with a sexy boylesque number with what I can only describe as a giant martini glass with water in it. It sounds strange, but it was amazing! Isobel Moore and Reid McGowan as Europa and Taurus respectively performed a wonderful arial number with a hanging hoop. Natalya Alessi as Virgo with a beautiful Burlesque and Ballet mixed dance number. Seth Scheuner as the mythical Goat creature, Capricorn and a stunning arial number with a giant, spinning, hourglass with themes on turning time.
However, there is one act from the first half of the show that is arguably the best of the whole show. Jack Dawson and Reed Kelly, The Two Fathoms, as Gemini. The performance consists of the two portraying Pollux and Castor, known as The Great Twins. The brothers loved each other beyond measure. Dawson and Kelly perform an emotionally stunning aerial display, intertwining themselves with each other to create the most stunning symmetrical shapes whiles rotating several feet above the stage.
Their display is so incredibly moving that I was welling up watching and listening to their story. I also found myself gazing to the walls of the theatre to see their beautiful shapes displayed as shadows spinning around. It is clear that Lighting Director, Jason Bovaird, has considered the whole space when lighting up this incredible production.
Act 2 consists of the remaining zodiac signs with Adam Malone as Aries, Soliana Ersie as Cancer, and Emily Chilvers as Scorpio with an incredible display of physical strength with an aerial rope number. Danny Golding as Sagittarius with an exciting pole dancing number, all in heels so tall they would give me vertigo (in a good way). Golding’s entire performance is flawless, and he certainly knows how to entertain a crowd. We were all cheering and clapping along the entire time, and I was surprised it didn’t get a standing ovation.
The highlights of Act 2 bookend the performance with Bettie Bombshell as Leo and Zoe Marshall as Pisces. Bettie Bomshell’s Leo is exactly as her name suggest, a bombshell performance that will leave you in captivated and wanting more. In the theme of burlesque, Bettie uses fire twirling sticks that she somehow manages to re-ignite with her own breath, rubs the naked flame on her skin and effortlessly extinguishes the flame with her mouth. If that wasn’t enough, she breaks out some whips to crack away with the music. One thing was for sure, Bettie Bombshell’s Leo had the whole theatre roaring with excitement as she left the stage.
Now, I have seen many aerial numbers in my time, including those that preceded Zoe Marshall’s display during Oracle. But nothing would have prepared me for what I was about to witness. With her hair tied up into a tight bun, adorned with a singular silver ring, Marshall attaches the aerial rope directly to her hair and proceeds to spin around the stage. Accompanied by Seth Scheuner, the pair perform an incredible aerial number, all whilst hanging from her own hair! I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Oracle is one of the hottest, most exciting, and awe-inspiring productions I have ever seen. It is no wonder that this show has made an encore return to the Athenaeum Theatre, it is that bloody good! And, having seen other productions by Bass G Fam in the past, it is clear that anything he touches turns into absolute gold. I cannot wait to see what he does next, because you bet, I will be there to see it!
Whilst this is the second time Oracle has returned to Melbourne, there is no guarantee it will come back again. So, I urge you to grab yourselves some tickets, take your friends and have the best time watching all of these incredible performers do what they do best. You will not be disappointed. Do not miss this one!
Oracle is one now at the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne until the 11th of February. Oracle will then be in Perth at The Regal Theatre from Feb 17th to March 5th, and then will make a stop in Sydney from June 29th to July 9th at the Roslyn Packer Theatre. Sydney’s encore season is on sale soon.
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Photography by Ben Vella.