The thing with theatre is you have to make up your mind to go and not prevaricate, seasons are short and good shows sell out. Downstage has been hitting the sweet spot recently with sell-out shows like Guru of Chai and the Soundstage series that looks to become an institution. If you are shy of theatre and not really sure what you would like you should consider booking tickets for Deadly now because you wont be disappointed and the season ends 23 October.
Deadly’s tagline is ‘circus with bite!’ and the performance explores the arch of a relationship using the 7 deadly sins as a device to draw us into the dark sides of a passionate coupling. It opens with a couple devouring each other, literally biting into each other, they start out sensual and become increasingly aggressive and demanding. The audience is nodding to themselves, thinking, “Ah, gluttony – ticked that one off. Now, what were the other deadly sins again?”
Fortunately this is not a literal romp through the sins and you soon find yourself caught up in the sheer beauty and physicality of these body artists, not caring if it is pride or wrath when the man writhes up the pole raging and thrashing, cursing fate before sliding head first down the pole stopping centimetres before the ground. There are no harnesses and no safety nets, plenty of the audience were left white-knuckled watching the couple on the swing suspended over the stage performing the private universe of love with all of its suffocating and sometimes slothful intensity. If all this sound a bit, well, intense, never fear – there is a lot of joy and a few laughs to be had. The sulk performed as a yogic headstand produced a few stifled giggles of recognition from the audience and a blissed-out solitary swing while the sky rained gold flecks brought the audience to ohs and ahs and a rolling swell of applause. The music is also pretty diverse with some raging out to metal and some swinging to Nina Simone.
If you have difficulty picturing circus as anything more than glorified gymnastics open your mind because the form is evolving and Wellington has a thriving circus community. Downstage has helpfully put together a video preview for you to get a taste.