I have always been fascinated with the stars. Whether it be astronomy, astrology, or even just visually. So, you can imagine my curiosity and excitement when Bass Fam Creative’s Oracle was announced to have its encore season in Melbourne at The Athenaeum.
Upon entering the theatre, the curtains were shut, with only a small additional stage exposed, illuminated in a blueish-purple light, with some seating surrounding the second stage. As I sat there curious and unsure what to expect, I reminisced on my only experience of Bass Fam Creative’s other work, Matador, which I had seen originally in 2019 at the Melba Spiegeltent, and then again more recently in its evolved format earlier this year with Matador la Experiencia at Meat Market. My comparisons weren’t needed however, as Matador and Oracle are worlds apart.
While it is clear that both shows are from the same creator with the same sexy and unique flavour by combining circus with dance and burlesque while accompanied with catchy mixed tunes, appearing to be Bass Fam Creative’s signature, this is where the similarities end. Matador is fun, flirtatious and will make you leave with a smile on your face. Oracle, unlike its predecessor, is full of emotion, heart and was created during our lockdown era.
Even if you don’t believe in the power of star signs, it is likely that you would know what your sign is. But what many wouldn’t know are the stories behind the Zodiacs. The show dives into several tales of mythology and ancient lore that helped shaped the constellations that we know and look upon today. However, the production’s narrative humanises these stories to make these god-like characters and creatures feel relatable, while still appearing mesmerising at the same time. The stories are all told by The Oracle, whether live through song, or via voice recordings that simply enhance the narrative of what is unfolding before our eyes.
With the stage consisting of giant Greco roman pillars, an arch in the middle of the stage, and a giant moon towards the left, each Zodiac takes to the stage one by one to command our attention. The Oracle, played by an intimidatingly tall and vocally impressive Jasmin Varlet, overlooks on every scene. Not only did I find the stories incredibly interesting and surprisingly educational, but I found myself feeling that I had not only teleported to another country, it also felt like that I had travelled back in time.
Although every act was superb, there were a few stand outs. Danny Golding is incredible as Krotus the Satyr for the constellation of Sagittarius, displaying an insane amount of strength and expertise on the pole, and making me wonder why pole dancing isn’t an Olympic sport yet. Betty Bombshell’s fire breathing and fire twirling as Hercules for the sign of Leo showcased a natural air of sass and finesse, and she was clearly a crowd favourite.
Rhys Bobridge’s performance as Ganymede for the sign of Aquarius was gorgeous, displaying an exquisite dance within a giant martini glass that was sensual, breathtakingly, and I couldn’t help but think of how opportune this performance would have been to photograph, simply because of how stunning it was. I also thoroughly enjoyed Adam Malone’s performance as Egyptian god, Amun Ra who commanded the stage with his presence, wielding the hula hoops as if they were both weapons and an extension of himself.
However, my favourite moment of the night was the Gemini performance, starring Two Fathoms as brothers Castor and Pollux, played by Reed Kelly and Jack Dawson, in what quite possibly may be the most moving and beautiful aerial performance I have ever seen.
I was captivated. My jaw was hanging open in awe. I was physically hanging on the edge of my seat while every death-defying moment was executed. The trust the pair shared and exhibited was flawless. The beauty of the storytelling that accompanied this performance only helped enhance the experience… and I surprisingly found myself moved to tears. I didn’t even realise I was crying until I felt the tears escape my eyes and roll down my cheeks.
If the performances alone weren’t enough to impress you, learning that one person, Bass G Fam, who takes on many roles as Writer, Director, Producer, and is even behind the set and costume design, will blow your mind.
Every bit of emotion and creative energy that was held captive during lockdown has been released into this show, and the overall result, consisting of the best talented performers that money can buy, magnificent handmade costumes, excellent choreography, and an extreme amount of passion, detail, research, emotional depth, and heart, all combine to manifest this masterpiece.
Australia is so very lucky to have this creative genius that is Bass G Fam. I feel so blessed to have seen this show that honestly deserves to conquer the world. I only wish that there were program books available, so that I had something to commemorate this wonderful experience.
Despite Oracle being set in ancient times and mythology, it is clearly about love, whether it be familial love, romantic love, or self-love. It is a defiant protest to the importance of creative expression and is also a touching tribute to the fragility of life. And whilst we don’t normally do star ratings, I would honestly give this show every star in the sky. Oracle is phenomenal and is something that everyone should witness before it disappears.
Oracle is now playing at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre until the 30th of July. The show then heads to The Studio at the Sydney Opera House from the 3rd of August to the 14th.
For more information and ticketing, visit the links below:
Photography by Ben Vella.