This is where circus rediscovers it’s rhythm, Model Citizens is a triumphant exercise into art and the way in which it so perfectly can capture the very essence of a country’s identity. To say this is strictly circus would be doing it an injustice, for there are some damn fine moments of choreography, and as a whole, the performance has a great sense of rhythm.
This is the work of director Rob Tannion who last year became artistic director of Circus Oz and Model Citizen could not more of a dramatic shift from other recent works by the company, this is fresh and its contemporary, and vibrant as all hell.
Each of the individual scenes makes way for next, with a strong sense of continuity that is so often missing in circus. There’s a great level of detail here, and the thought that has gone into this performance seems realised, conceptually and thematically. The Circus Oz musicians are at times joined or even taken over by electronic sounds, it further helps bind the performance as a whole and speaks directly to the contemporary nature of the performance.
Model Citizens doesn’t just glorify what it means to be Australian, in fact there are some scenes that seem to tap into the darker side of society, domestic violence and violence against woman as two of the strongest examples. This is risky, circus so oft being a family friendly occasion. That such material is given light is commendable. Other contemporary subjects Model Citizens taps into include negative gearing, the fading reality of “The Great Australian Dream” and the outdated nuclear family.
The second act perhaps looses a little of the show’s canter, with the narrative also becoming a little confused, there are moments here that don’t feel necessary, cheap gags that miss the mark. Cutting these and shaving just 10 or 15 minutes from the run time, would create two equals.
This show is special, and it’s enough to bring a tear to ones eye, it’s testimate to the artists that Melbourne seems to attract and the community that has been built up around this company. If this is just a taste of whats to come for Circus Oz over the next few years, then we are certainly in for a treat.