Review: The Odditorium

11 February 2019

Anyone who has ever thought about running away to join the circus probably dreamed of something like The Odditorium. Presented as part of the Midsumma Festival, it is a cabaret love letter to the magic of circus and vaudeville. The show features four performers who find the balance between absurd humour and theatrical magic, drawing by turns raucous laughter and amazed gasps from the audience. Sophie deLightful’s powerful singing voice was immediately captivating as the opening act of the show and she remained an engaging compere throughout. The Quizzical Mr Jeff and Nat Lunatrick performed juggling and manipulation acts which seemed to defy the laws of physics and gravity, and Lunatrick also introduced us to the fifth member of The Odditorium, an entertainingly droll ventriloquist’s puppet called Lord Maverick. Miss Amy May Rose’s hypnotic performances on aerial hoop and trapeze were a particular highlight of the show, displaying great technical skill while making it seem effortless.

The audience was promised an “interactive” cabaret at the opening of the show, and this manifested as various audience members were called onstage to become part of the show. This emphasis on audience participation (through the bouncy ball “sphere of obligation” being thrown to an audience member at random) results in a show which is not simply a display of rehearsed acts but rather an interactive and ever-changing spectacle. Though the sections based on audience participation did lag at some points, their unpredictable nature also yielded amusing moments – what could have descended into chaos was guided skilfully by the performers, who demonstrated their ability to think on their feet.

There were a couple of minor mishaps throughout the show, but these small breaks in the illusion only served to demonstrate the energy and skill that goes into creating it, and were easily forgiven by the audience. These missteps (and the additions of a particularly vocal heckler) also gifted us with deliciously witty ad libs from the various performers, which were some of the best moments of the show. This, combined with the relative sparseness of the stage, gave a sense of rawness and charm which would have been lost in a more over-polished production.

The theme of romance was present throughout, but this was secondary to the acts themselves, letting the performers’ skills take the spotlight rather than forcing a storyline into the show. The Odditorium is a performance which revels in its own theatricality, resulting in an hour of very organic and thoroughly engaging entertainment.

The Odditorium was co-produced by Sophie deLightful and The Quizzical Mr Jeff .

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