Casting Off - A Good Catch

‘Casting Off’ // CIRCfest Meanjin

‘Casting Off’ was intergenerational.

A Good Catch, in conjunction with CIRCFest Meanjin and Cluster Arts have presented an oddly fulfilling acrobatic piece, entitled ‘Casting Off’, to an awe-inspired crowd of onlookers. Significantly, the show included three powerful and skilled women, and left viewers thinking, “Is there anything they can’t do?” and “How can I be more?” 

Having won three fringe awards from the Adelaide, Edinburgh and Melbourne Fringe Festivals, this piece is polished and perfected. With the three performers from and representing different generations, the piece is an eclectic mix of bodily artistry, with flying, tumbling, balancing and very clever and witty dialogue. 

‘Casting Off’ is not just circus for circus’ sake. That is, it doesn’t just show off tricks, it empowers the body, the individual and women in general, reflective of the mission behind producer, A Good Catch. This arthouse is a collective focused on experimenting with circus elements through a feminist lens, which emanated within every component of the show. 

There was hilarity found in reciting children’s poetry, the retelling of ancestor’s stories, playful banter and motivational reflections. The dialogue provided the show pace, but also a layer of meaning, especially to the tricks and movement sequences.

Minimal set and props were utilised, with several wooden chairs, a couple of small tables and the all-important rigging, supported by rigger Beau Dudding. 

Costuming was vibrant and intricate, with bold blues and pinks on all three performers, and attire made of knitted and crocheted elements. Similarly, colourful shoes provided cohesion, and all of the elements allowed performers the flexibility required for such a physically demanding piece.

Direction and choreography were unlisted in the programme, however, A Good Catch’s mission statement suggests that much of the creative process includes democracy and collaboration in their design. Transitions were seamless and the moments of gravity-defying flight and balance were smooth, albeit scary. 

Performers Debra Batton, Sharon Gruenert and Spenser Inwood were a united and unbelievably talented team. They complemented one another with their unique skills and exceptional professionalism.

Batton, often mocked by the others as “an old lady”, was exceptionally strong and hilariously so. Her comedic timing was flawless and regularly had audience members in fits of laughter. While there was no plot per se, Batton’s character became the catalyst for several tricks and changes in tempo, with her forgetfulness leading her to wander off stage and interact with the audience.

Gruenert was outstanding in their sequences of contortionist-like performance – weaving in and out of chairs, clambering up the bodies of the others and swinging at extreme heights with both confidence and poise. 

Inwood, the youngest of the troupe, was grounded and bold. Her delivery of dialogue exuded just the right amount of sass to challenge but not insult her peers. Similarly, her comedic timing mirrored the rest of the group and her use of ropes to climb and descend was extremely impressive. 

As the name suggests, the show is about casting off – expectations, stereotypes, and doubt. In many ways, the bones of ‘Casting Off’, and the dialogue itself are the motivational speech of the circus world – empowering the performers, the creatives behind the show and the audience to be more, do more and feel more.

‘Casting Off’ performed until April 23, 2022 at Brisbane Powerhouse. For more information visit Cluster Arts’ website.


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