‘Cirque Bon Bon’ was mesmerising.
The South Bank Piazza was brought to life with dancers, acrobats, and contortionists Wednesday night, as Jacs Entertainment’s ‘Cirque Bon Bon’ entranced the crowd with feats of strength and laugh-out-loud cabaret-style comedy.
Presented by Brisbane Festival and South Bank Parklands, the 70-minute show was created by two Brisbanites: former Cirque Du Soleil Assistant Creative Director Ash Jacks (McCready) and Choreographer Julieann Nugent.
The show has sold out after creating buzz at Brisbane Powerhouse in December 2021 – and it’s easy to see why: the “electrifying” mix of “beauty and bravery” brings audience interaction to the forefront and relies heavily on the hilarity of Freddie Mercury-loving MC, ‘Mario, Queen of the Circus.’
Stage design was minimal with a riser allowing for levels in the dance sequences, and a platform for the aerialists to make their dramatic entrances. The technical star of the show was lighting design by Travis MacFarlane, featuring purple and green spotlights and projections that added to the atmosphere. While the darkly lit numbers sometimes made it hard to see the full dance sequences, the audience was certainly made to feel we were transported to an other-worldly underground club.
The slowed down, remixed covers of pop songs interspersed with MC Mario’s comic takes on classic Queen songs made for a perfect pace and delighted the crowd. Costumes were beautiful – sparkling and shining in the lights as performers hung from hoops and swung from straps.
The audience involvement was a hit: giant beach balls filled with glitter thrown into the bleachers, water from an especially fantastic bathtub finale … even a banana peel let loose into the stands. MC Mario made us giggle as he walked through the tables, “smelling for fear” in a volunteer and proceeded to perform a striptease-turned-unicycle-trick to ‘Fat Bottom Girls’.
But despite his suggestion that the audience was the star of the show, it was the dance and circus performers who had the audience gripping our chairs, wide-eyed, wondering, ‘how are they DOING that?’
A beautiful aerial contortionist routine by Sabrina Aganier was the first gravity-defying act, leaving us spellbound by her twists and turns – ending in an impressive trick in which she dangled high in the air from a hoop – using only her mouth to hold on!
Gold Coast-based Scott Reynolds and Emma Goh’s act Duo Synergy was a formidable display of strength, balance, and trust – the lifts, spins and use of roller skates and costume changes mid-tricks were breath-taking.
Montreal act Alexandre Lane used lights and music to his advantage in an impressive Cyr wheel performance. For those unfamiliar, picture a single large ring a bit taller than the performer, who holds onto its rim, causing it to spin. Lane made the acrobatic moves in and around the rotating wheel look easy, but presumably they are anything but.
Juggler Cody Harrington and his sparkling side-kick Megan Ray also made their tricks look easy: multiple balls, pins and as many as eight rings were thrown high into the air and caught effortlessly to applause from the stands.
Interspersed throughout the traditional circus acts were three pairs of dancers, performing a variety of styles (mainly contemporary partner work with some tap thrown in) and beautiful lifts. Though not always in sync with their choreography, the dancers owned the stage, and each had a chance to shine with tricks – from flawless jumps to impressive arabesques and pirouettes.
The grand finale featured aerial work by Circus Stephen (Stephen Williams) in which he emerged soaking wet from a bathtub snuck on stage while MC Mario worked the crowd. Flinging his hair back and spouting water like a merman, Williams offered a sexy closing number of creative, one-handed tricks and a spectacular display of strength and control.
While the Piazza is packed for the rest of the ‘Cirque Bon Bon’ BrisFest run, you can catch Jacs Entertainment’s next enthralling circus show at Brisbane Powerhouse this December, with their upcoming production, ‘Jingle’.
‘Cirque Bon Bon’ performs until Saturday 23 September 2023 at South Bank Piazza. For more information visit the Brisbane Festival website.