Rarely can the word ‘magnificent’ be used to accurately describe a Fringe performance without invoking accusations of hyperbole, yet Katie Noonan and Circa’s Love-Song-Circus earned that description.
The Garden Of Unearthly Delights – Paradiso Spiegeltent, Tuesday, March 11 Rarely can the word ‘magnificent’ be used to accurately describe a Fringe performance without invoking accusations of hyperbole, yet Katie Noonan and Circa’s Love-Song-Circus earned that description. Love-Song-Circus was a gorgeous confluence of Noonan’s crystalline vocals, beautifully composed songs and a series of riveting movement pieces from the Circa circus company. Noonan shared the untold stories of the earliest European women brought to Australia. Having performed her own extensive research into the lives of convict women, these were the love songs they might have sung, had they ever had the chance. The dance and acrobatics taking place before the band combined with the music to personify these long-passed women’s emotions. Joy, fear, love and confusion were portrayed and enhanced impeccably by the three young Circa performers. It is hard to define the dancers’ movements as either acrobatics, contortion, contemporary dance or gymnastics, because they were all of these things at different points in the show. The three women on stage shifted between stunning feats of statuesque strength and agility to graceful dances influenced by classical and modern traditions. It was a remarkable thing to behold. Their own fortitude and elasticity mirrored that of the characters in Noonan’s songs handsomely. This mix of classic and contemporary style pervaded the musical element of the show as well. The program describes Love-Song-Circus’ composition as comprising “flavours of the folk tradition, but in a modern, semi-classical sense”, and this rang true. Noonan’s soaring vocals, accompanied by the Gossamer String Quartet and Benjamin and Zoe Hauptmann, swirled through the Paradiso Spiegeltent, moving from folk stories to ballads to electronic improvisation rather seamlessly. The splendour of witnessing a woman twirl through the air – supported only by her own slender limbs wrapped in sheets of fabric – as Noonan’s voice washed over the audience was enough to send shivers up my spine multiple times. In a festival defined so often by humour and frivolity, Love-Song-Circus stands out in the Fringe as a hauntingly beautiful and stoic performance of love and loss. Rating: ***** Katie Noonan & Circa: Love-Song-Circus continues at The Garden Of Unearthly Delights – Paradiso Spiegeltent until Sunday, March 16. *This review first appeared in Rip It Up