Twenty years ago, going to a circus meant tormented animals forced to juggle on the backs of horses and girls with uncountable numbers of sequins flying rather worryingly from a trapeze. Not so any more. Lucy and the Lost Boy is the end-of-year performance by the third-year students from NICA. Devised and directed by physical theatre stalwart Sally Richardson, it’s a fantastic example of modern circus.
Lucy watches enviously from her window as the bad ’uns have fun, whilst her doting parents hunt out books to tempt her into studying law, medicine and accountancy. Bo-ring. Instead, she falls in love with the enigmatic Lost Boy. He gets kidnapped by baddies and she leads the rescue for him. Luckily for any concerned parents in the audience, Lucy returns to her safe, stable life with her parents. Then goes to uni, gets a job with a respectable law firm, becomes a Liberal voter and buys a house in Toorak. OK, so a little of that synopsis was a personal extrapolation but the plotline did feel like a cop out.
However, the physicality of this performance is incredible. It’s dramatic, impressive and breathtaking. These students make the complex moves on wires, nets, trapezes, poles and other frightening looking equipment seem effortless. You know you’re seeing the future stars of circus. Several of the performers brought humour to their characters; the men wearing cloaks made from teddy bears skins and the juggling girl were stand-outs.
The performance takes place in a large space at NICA. The graphics from well-known street artists are animated, creating a busy evocative backdrop and the diverse soundscape adds to the production. The performers utilise the space extremely well, scenes are busy and the eye doesn’t always know quite what to look at. The production stays absolutely in its world, apart from a wee moment of audience participation, which is slightly jarring.
If you don’t want to run away and join the circus by the end of this performance, we can only assume you have parents like Lucy’s.
WARNING: If you have a clown phobia, this production may alarm and distress.