CIRCUS AND CABARET IN FEAST FOR ADULT SENSES
FEAR & DELIGHT
Strut & Fret Production House
Venue: Arcadia, South Bank Cultural Forecourt until Friday, September 25
Reviewed: September 5
Reviewer: Belinda Seeney
FEAR & Delight is a show not easily pigeonholed.
The Brisbane Festival drawcard employs elements of circus, cabaret and adult entertainment in a mashup that channels both dinner theatre and the throbbing club scene.
Much early buzz around the Strut & Fret production, which plays eight shows a week in a purpose-built tent for the duration of the festival, centred on its peripheral elements.
A converted shipping container that mists gin and tonic over ticketholders and the gruesome gourmet offerings of The Devil’s Banquet dominated discussion, leaving little opportunity to chew over the actual show.
The buzz proves prophetic as, taken in isolation, Fear & Delight’s stage show is a little light on substance.
Instead, it fares better when viewed as part of a larger, immersive experience beginning with an instruction for audience members to be dressed in black and white.
Those partaking in the optional banquet are offered glitter-filled capsules and a tray of shot glasses labelled “drink me” upon entering an antechamber for creepy canapes and encounters with kooky characters.
Patrons pop perfume-filled balloons while sucking on cocktail-filled plasma bags and partake in mad mixology before splattering spoonfuls of their edible creations on a perspex window and licking it off.
Diners are then seated around the stage and served a Bacchanalian feast with latex gloves replacing cutlery, chicken served from birdcages, condiments applied with paint brushes and free-range hens pecking centrestage during dessert.
As the dining tiles and plastic sheeting are cleared, the remainder of the two-toned audience files in and the next phase of Fear & Delight begins.
The clue to categorising the show lies in director Scott Maidment’s admission he created it around the music of South London DJ act The Correspondents.
The duo, comprising producer DJ Chucks and vocalist Mr Bruce, is accompanied by drummer Holly Madge to collectively create the jazz-electro-synth sound that sets a frenetic pace for the show’s almost 90minute duration.
A half-dozen artists and acrobats perform raunchy routines, steeped in themes of bondage and fetishism, but this is clearly a star vehicle for The Correspondents.
The flamboyantly costumed Mr Bruce strides centrestage several times while the creative chaos of the supporting cast plays out around him.
At times, these talented performers are relegated to what feels like filler for the singer, serving as his back-up dancers, but are spared from the banality of the role by the risque nature of the routines including one that dissolves into orgiastic mimicry. Delivering a standout performance is the delightfully irreverent clown-turned-MC Spencer Novich, whose provocative prose treads a fine line towards the offensive without overstepping the mark or descending into common crassness. The aerial artistry is on point, with Milena Straczynski and Hampus Jansson’s duet a sensual demonstration of control and spatial cognisance and the former’s rope bondage act, inspired by ancient Japanese artistry, a captivating spectacle.
Back on solid ground, Leo Sanchez’s hoop act is a final dizzying display of strength and stamina before the joyous pandemonium of Fear & Delight’s messy climax.
Fear & Delight is an 18+ production