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Greece is the word: ‘Godz’ kicks off an action-packed Fringe festival

Fringe World 2023 kicked off last night and for our first show we witnessed classic acrobatics paired with a little gender-bending. Actually, we were treated to a quartet of performers dressed as Greek gods in skimpy togas while delivering a fresh take on the art of acrobatics.

Godz – presented by Head First Acrobats – is a mix of storytelling, circus acts, serious stunts, and nudge-nudge, wink-wink slapstick.

The show follows the lives of four of the ancient Gods of Olympus. There is Cupid (God of Love), Hercules (God of Strength), Apollo (God of the Sun), and Dionysus (God of Wine) – each helping to paint the scene of Ancient Greece in shades of decadence and the occasional debauchery.

‘Godz’ is packed with high energy from start to finish, and includes awe-inspiring aerial antics, precarious chair-balancing stunts, and even the occasional dry-humping.

Head First Acrobatics are a multi-award winning, Melbourne-based troupe that has built an enviable reputation of world-class circus-style performance. Their show Railed from a couple of years back was immensely popular, as was last year’s Crème de la Crème, which also features in this year’s Fringe program.

The group is careful to keep their differently titled productions, well, different, and Godz appears to be the most comical of their shows – which is ironic, given its usually sacred subject matter. It might also be their kinkiest show – with plenty of bare butt action and sexual innuendo. Heck, even nuns get it on the kinky action in this production.

True to their name, Head First dive right into the dangerous stunts: one performer balances precariously on a stack of chairs; another hangs of a rope by the skin of his teeth (her, given the performer is dressed as a nun?); and another does a handstand atop a set of six wobbly bricks.

Between all the sexy moves, heavy lifting, delicate balancing, impressive stunts and slapstick jokes, there are only a couple of issues of consistency or lack thereof: for example, why is Dionysus not the one pouring all the wine? And is Cupid a god of love or one more inclined to lust?

Zeus appears towards the end, dressed in a quasi-drag mix of beard with six-inch heels, and begging the question: were the Greek gods the first to flirt with transgender? It was once said by writer Roberto C. Ferrari that Dionysus was a “patron god of hermaphrodites and transvestites” (the 2002 Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Culture) – an assumption linked to his being dressed in girl’s clothes during childhood. But Zeus’ drag here takes the cake in leaving a lasting impression; his see-through heels are six inches high and still he manages all that jumping about and tricky balancing.

Head First Acrobats consistently turn out quality shows at Fringe. The troupe’s world-class circus antics and physical theatre performance is refreshed year after year, with new tricks sneaked in each time. Which is more than we can say for your lazier familiar acts who may think changing costumes but keeping the same moves is not going to be noticed by ardent Fringe audiences.

Oh we’re watching alright, so the rest of the acrobatic darlings on the Fringe circuit best be giving us lots of different.

★★★★1/2

Antonino Tati

 

‘Godz’ is on in the Aurora Spiegeltent, Russell Square, Northbridge from now until February 19.

Tickets are $43 for Friday and Saturday nights sessions, or $39 for midweek shows.

For more information visit fringeworld.com.au.

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