The Memminger Auditorium has been transformed into a theatre in the round. In the middle lay two cartons of eggs. The ceiling is a constellation of ropes, a long silk fabric and a trapeze. The only female member of Casus Circus, Kali Retallack, treads over the carton of eggs, without breaking a single one of them. Thus begins an hour-long acrobatic and aerial performance full of surprises — and eggs.
The Casus Circus, a company from Brisbane, Australia, is no regular circus with clowns and fire rings. The four-member ensemble defies gravity and challenges gendered norms by making Retallack do some heavy lifting. She is not the only one thrown around in this performance, titled “Knee Deep”; she also becomes the base to the human tower and carries the men on her shoulders with tiny smile on her face.
Every moment counts. You look away for a second and, suddenly, the bodies have intertwined mid-air with the greatest of ease, the human tower is complete with the topmost member holding an unbroken egg. The eggs are a recurring motif, played with often, sometimes at the top of a human tower and sometimes on the floor. In each situation, the egg never slips away from their tangles, unless deliberately broken.
Balance is maintained and nothing, especially the performers’ spirit, cracks under pressure.
The audience gasped and held its breath at various moments, especially when Natano Fa’anana, co-founder of the troupe and the oldest member, climbs a silk fabric as though it were rock solid. He hoists himself up with ease, locks his legs, turns upside down, spins around and jumps back onto the floor with a tiny smile.
With each change in lights and music comes a new act. Retallack climbs onto an aerial hoop, turns upside down and begins to spin like a top. In mid air! Her body is seamless and fluid as she spins and tugs at the hoop. The two other male members throw, catch, twist, turn and do everything within their capacity to defy gravity without loosing their equilibrium.
The Casus Circus’ performance is a feast for the eyes. The final acts with the trapezium, showcasing their strong and resilient bodies, will leave you amazed and short of breath. I left the auditorium with just one question: What do these guys eat for breakfast? Probably eggs.
Ishani Chatterji is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.