Review: Spiegelworld’s Empire

This outrageous and hugely entertaining production combines circus, burlesque, comedy and vaudeville, all wrapped up in the beautiful wooden spiegeltent. The front seats are very close to the action which adds to the excitement and sightlines are excellent.

Directed by Terence O'Connell, the 90 minute show rockets along, and some well-placed quieter sequences help keep audience hysteria in check. 

While most music is recorded, vocalist Casey Jamerson and guitarist Andy Bianco perform live throughout. The show features jaw-dropping feats of strength, balance and acrobatic finesse. These are interspersed by raunchy comedy and multiple costume changes from Jonathan Taylor and Anne Goldmann. Subtle they are not. Be warned if you're male, good looking and sit in the front row. 

In an evening of excellence highlights were: the ethereal opening with graceful and super-flexible contortionist Lucia Carbines, suspended in a perspex globe; the astonishing Gorilla Girls whose daring acrobatic balances are of a kind normally done by men, though not often in sexy black underwear. 

Roller skating duo Denis Pataov and Mariia Beseimbetova excite in a passionate and at times terrifying duet. Yasu Yoshikawa who performs on the Cyr, (like a very large hula hoop,) and the German wheel, (think hamster wheel, only bigger.) Yoshikawa has a quirky other-worldliness that makes him irresistible. 

The Addis Brothers are another stand-out. Their incredible 'foot juggling,' where one spun the other like a ball on his feet, ending with 50 consecutive flips was mind-boggling. It was reassuring to note that the balancer had a specially constructed seat which supported his back and his neck.

But it was the finale that proved unforgettable. The Branch Balance #2 by Memet Bilgin is extraordinary. He is given a feather and with Zen-like concentration begins to balance first one, then 14 branches one on top of the other. Finally he balances them all on his head, leading to an awe inspiring conclusion, which you must see to believe. When complete, his structure resembles a skeletal ship whose element is the air, not the sea. The audience sat in mesmerised silence. It was superb.

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 - The Dominion Post

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