Frothily Entertaining R16 Must-Share Show (2013)

Review originally published on 13 December 2013 in Theatreview

There’s a 19th-century retro flavour in Knock Knock, the frothily entertaining R16 must-share cirque/theatre/cabaret show from The Dust Palace and friends designed to help you wind down to Christmas. There’s a sense of Victoriana about the whole, with Dickensian caricatures, music-hall reference acts, sideshow strongmen, scenes from erotic postcards, and some delightfully fervid send-ups. Great performances from everyone, and it definitely conjures a celebratory air that sends you back out into the street with a smile on your face.

Eight distinctly different acts comprise the show, each hidden behind its own painted door, collectively guarded by a good-natured gendarme (Ash Jones) who wields the pole of fate. The running order is decided by the sequence of door-knocking engaged in by audience members, and the utterly unpredictable individual acts serve up rollicking fun interlaced with fabulously impressive aerial feats nonchalantly performed.

Without giving too much away, I hope, there’s a beautifully clad  music box ballerina-chanteuse (Vanessa Thompson) with a wonderful vocal range and melancholic mien; a Very Strong Man (Shannon McGurgan) who has dream-like epic encounters with a petite young lady (Eve Gordon) dressed in a gingham dress with and broderie anglaise undergarments. There’s a pair of pole-dancing, rope-climbing firefighters (Ascia Maybury and Geoff Gilson), and extremely dexterous cross-racial Siamese fighting twins (Adrian Smith) who do everything but bite one another, and a fabulous Hoop aerialist (Rochelle Mangan) who also features as a man-eating mermaid in the elaborate tale of the Fresh Faced Cabin Boy (Edward Clendon) with dramatic aerial punctuations elicited through use of rope and mesh, and crises on the storm-lashed ocean added by a squad of marine ninjas (Gilson, Gordon, Smith, Maybury). A man (Aaron Burr) steps out his door into a surreal world, encountering a trio of high stepping show ponies (Gordon, Clendon, Mangan) before being trapped in their world, and a charmingly explicit granny (Gordon) explains how she and the foreman invented the first hand-held device to achieve some very particularly desired results.

All in all one of the best from The Dust Palace to date, and destined I’m sure for the festival circuit – Adelaide, Edinburgh and beyond.

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