Thursday, December 12, 2019


Presented by Canberra Theatre Centre and The Works Entertainment
Canberra Theatre to 21 December

Reviewed by Len Power 11 December 2019

The Canberra Theatre Centre has scored a world premiere for The Works Entertainment’s new show, ‘Cirque Stratosphere’.  Created by Simon Painter and Tim Lawson, their past work includes the excellent show ‘The Illusionists’, seen at this time last year here in Canberra.  The Works Entertainment is a wholly owned division of the Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group.  They have performed all over the world in more than 400 cities.

In this show a troupe of Olympic standard acrobats and gymnasts perform breath-taking stunts with high level production values.  The expensive-looking space-themed show has been well designed with colourful futuristic costumes, a spectacular setting and well-designed lighting and sound.

The main acts were truly impressive.  Pole artist, Polina Volchek, showed amazing strength and flexibility as well as elegance in her performance high above the stage.  Felice Aguilar did a dazzling dance on a spinning plate that was visually beautiful as well as gymnastically clever.

Evgenii Viktorovich & Natalia Viktorovna

Two Russian gymnasts, Dmitry Makrushin and Oleg Bespalov, demonstrated exceptional skills requiring power, flexibility and balance and two roller skaters,
Evgenii Viktorovich and Natalia Viktorovna, performed an edgy high-speed act that was confined to a raised platform.

Dmitry Makrushin & Oleg Bespalov

Two young Asian men, Nicolas-Yang Wang & Shengpeng Nie, appeared in a crowd-pleasing hoop diving act that was truly exciting to watch.  Their lively personalities quickly made them an audience favourite and their seemingly impossible stunts were quite extraordinary.

Other acts were just as impressive with performers dangling and balancing high up on swings, performing with hoops and ropes or tumbling with a see-saw.  Maybe it was world premiere first night nerves but there were some noticeably unsteady and off-balance moments in a couple of the acts that were a bit concerning.

In between these main acts, two skilful comedians – one in a space suit and another with his mouth taped over – presented sequences that required the participation of selected audience members.  One of these involved the use of tape measures as light sabres and was quite amusing but others went on far too long and weren’t particularly funny.

It’s the gymnastic acts that are the drawcard for this show and it certainly delivers on that score.  Its impressive production values will please audiences as well but be prepared for ear-splitting sound levels throughout the show.  If you’re looking for an exciting family show in the lead up to Christmas, this one will be sure to entertain everyone.

Photos by Mark Turner

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.